The National Benefits Hub

Research that Supports Recreation

← Home

Advanced Search

Maternal Exercise During Pregnancy Promotes Physical Activity in Adult Offspring

Key Message

Researchers found that mice born to mothers that exercised during pregnancy were about 50 percent more physically active than those born to mothers who did not exercise. Their increased activity persisted into later adulthood, and even improved their ability to lose fat. 


Eclarinal, Jesse D. et al. (2016). Maternal exercise during pregnancy promotes physical activity in adult offspring. The FASEB Journal. Published online before print March 31, 2016, doi: 10.1096/fj.201500018R


Previous rodent studies have shown that maternal voluntary exercise during pregnancy leads to metabolic changes in adult offspring. We set out to test whether maternal voluntary exercise during pregnancy also induces persistent changes in voluntary physical activity in the offspring.


Adult C57BL/6J female mice were randomly assigned to be caged with an unlocked (U) or locked (L) running wheel before and during pregnancy. Maternal running behavior was monitored during pregnancy, and body weight, body composition, food intake, energy expenditure, total cage activity, and running wheel activity were measured in the offspring at various ages. U offspring were slightly heavier at birth, but no group differences in body weight or composition were observed at later ages (when mice were caged without access to running wheels). Consistent with our hypothesis, U offspring were more physically active as adults. This effect was observed earlier in female offspring (at sexual maturation). Remarkably, at 300 d of age, U females achieved greater fat loss in response to a 3-wk voluntary exercise program.

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

Get Updates By Email