Perinatal exercise improves glucose homeostasis in adult offspring

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Oct 15;303(8):E1061-8. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00213.2012. Epub 2012 Aug 28.


Emerging research has shown that subtle factors during pregnancy and gestation can influence long-term health in offspring. In an attempt to be proactive, we set out to explore whether a nonpharmacological intervention, perinatal exercise, might improve offspring health. Female mice were separated into sedentary or exercise cohorts, with the exercise cohort having voluntary access to a running wheel prior to mating and during pregnancy and nursing. Offspring were weaned, and analyses were performed on the mature offspring that did not have access to running wheels during any portion of their lives. Perinatal exercise caused improved glucose disposal following an oral glucose challenge in both female and male adult offspring (P < 0.05 for both). Blood glucose concentrations were reduced to lower values in response to an intraperitoneal insulin tolerance test for both female and male adult offspring of parents with access to running wheels (P < 0.05 and P < 0.01, respectively). Male offspring from exercised dams showed increased percent lean mass and decreased fat mass percent compared with male offspring from sedentary dams (P < 0.01 for both), but these parameters were unchanged in female offspring. These data suggest that short-term maternal voluntary exercise prior to and during healthy pregnancy and nursing can enhance long-term glucose homeostasis in offspring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Birth Weight / physiology
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Deoxyglucose / metabolism
  • Eating / physiology
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Homeostasis / physiology*
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Lactation / physiology
  • Litter Size / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal / physiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Running / physiology


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Deoxyglucose
  • Glucose