Exercise alone is often ineffective for treating obesity despite the associated increase in metabolic requirements. Decreased nonexercise physical activity has been implicated in this resistance to weight loss, but the mechanisms responsible are unclear. We quantified the metabolic cost of nonexercise activity, or "off-wheel" activity (OWA), and voluntary wheel running (VWR) and examined whether changes in OWA during VWR altered energy balance in chow-fed C57BL/6J mice (n = 12). Energy expenditure (EE), energy intake, and behavior (VWR and OWA) were continuously monitored for 4 days with locked running wheels followed by 9 days with unlocked running wheels. Unlocking the running wheels increased EE as a function of VWR distance. The metabolic cost of exercise (kcal/m traveled) decreased with increasing VWR speed. Unlocking the wheel led to a negative energy balance but also decreased OWA, which was predicted to mitigate the expected change in energy balance by ∼45%. A novel behavioral circuit involved repeated bouts of VWR, and roaming was discovered and represented novel predictors of VWR behavior. The integrated analysis described here reveals that the weight loss effects of voluntary exercise can be countered by a reduction in nonexercise activity.
© 2018 by the American Diabetes Association.