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Proc Biol Sci. 2014 Jul 7;281(1786). pii: 20140210. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2014.0210.

Wheel running in the wild.

Author information

1
Laboratory for Neurophysiology, Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Leiden University Medical Centre, Einthovenweg 20, PO Box 9600, 2300 RC Leiden, The Netherlands j.h.meijer@lumc.nl.
2
Laboratory for Neurophysiology, Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Leiden University Medical Centre, Einthovenweg 20, PO Box 9600, 2300 RC Leiden, The Netherlands.

Abstract

The importance of exercise for health and neurogenesis is becoming increasingly clear. Wheel running is often used in the laboratory for triggering enhanced activity levels, despite the common objection that this behaviour is an artefact of captivity and merely signifies neurosis or stereotypy. If wheel running is indeed caused by captive housing, wild mice are not expected to use a running wheel in nature. This however, to our knowledge, has never been tested. Here, we show that when running wheels are placed in nature, they are frequently used by wild mice, also when no extrinsic reward is provided. Bout lengths of running wheel behaviour in the wild match those for captive mice. This finding falsifies one criterion for stereotypic behaviour, and suggests that running wheel activity is an elective behaviour. In a time when lifestyle in general and lack of exercise in particular are a major cause of disease in the modern world, research into physical activity is of utmost importance. Our findings may help alleviate the main concern regarding the use of running wheels in research on exercise.

KEYWORDS:

circadian rhythms; exercise; nature; stereotypic behaviour; wheel running

PMID:
24850923
PMCID:
PMC4046404
DOI:
10.1098/rspb.2014.0210
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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