Men who exercise more may have healthier offspring

“..the effects of exercise can be tied to RNA molecules that are inherited by the next generation through sperm.”

To the men who are thinking about skipping the gym today, you may want to reconsider. A new scientific study suggests that men who exercise have healthier children.

In the past, many studies showed that parents having poor exercise and eating habits pass these traits along to their children. Oftentimes, children develop cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes and have a much higher chance of struggling with obesity. 

Knowing this, Kristin Stanford, a molecular exercise physiologist from The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, studied mice and showed that a chemical RNA in sperm could be influenced by exercise and subsequently affect offspring. This is the first study to explore healthy lifestyles’ effects on the next generation. 

As published in Science, Stanford and her team studied both mice in an environment with no physical stimulation and mice with access to running wheels. Both groups received the same high-fat diet; some mice were chosen to be dissected for a sperm sample and others were left to reproduce. 

After studying the offspring for about a year, it was obvious that the mice exercising more frequently had children with healthier metabolisms. Their glucose responses were better, and they showed no sign of diabetes, suggesting that the high-fat diet of their parents did not negatively impact the youth when paired with regular exercise. 

Previously shown to affect the metabolism in offspring, the effects of exercise can be tied to RNA molecules that are inherited by the next generation through sperm. 

When Stanford studied the sperm samples of the mice that were not given the opportunity to exercise, she found many fragments of transfer RNA, which were not present in the sperm of exercising mice. The tRNA molecules may not be directly linked to metabolism, but it is possible that they could affect the development of the offspring.

This study doesn’t guarantee that the same is true for humans, but an epigeneticist, Sarah Kimmins, from the University in Montreal, Canada stated that this study “provides hope that if men would exercise, they would have healthier children.”  If that isn’t motivation to go to the gym today, I don’t know what is. 

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