Effect of voluntary exercise on open-field behavior and on aggression in the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR)

Behav Neural Biol. 1987 May;47(3):346-55. doi: 10.1016/s0163-1047(87)90461-4.


In the present study we investigated the influence of voluntary exercise on exploratory behavior and on aggression in the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR). Twenty-four SHR (8 weeks old) were randomly assigned to either an exercise group or a sedentary control group. The animals in the exercise group exhibited a spontaneous wheel running activity of 5-6 km/day during 6 weeks. The characteristic hyperexploratory behavior of SHR was lowered in the exercise group (p less than .001) as compared to the control group. The runners also showed a tendency for less aggression. In the postexercise period, when the runners' wheels were locked, the exercise group had a significant rise in aggression (p less than .01) vs the controls. The exploratory behavior returned immediately to the level of the controls, but we found no further increase in any of the parameters measured. However, the runners showed a type of displaced aggression exhibited as digging and biting in the test cage. This evidence suggests that voluntary exercise lowers the hyperexploratory behavior and aggression in the SHR and that an abrupt stop in exercise gives an "abstinence" reaction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Animals
  • Arousal
  • Exploratory Behavior*
  • Hypertension / psychology*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred SHR