Effects of voluntary activity and genetic selection on aerobic capacity in house mice (Mus domesticus)

John G. Swallow, Theodore Garland, Patrick A. Carter, Wen Zhi Zhan, Gary C. Sieck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

168 Scopus citations


An animal model was developed to study effects on components of exercise physiology of both 'nature' (10 generations of genetic selection for high voluntary activity on running wheels) and 'nurture' (7-8 wk of access or no access to running wheels, beginning at weaning). At the end of the experiment, mice from both wheel-access groups were significantly lighter in body mass than mice from sedentary groups. Within the wheel-access group, a statistically significant, negative relationship existed between activity and final body mass. In measurements of maximum oxygen consumption during forced treadmill exercise (V̇O(2max)), mice with wheel access were significantly more cooperative than sedentary mice; however, trial quality was not a significant predictor of individual variation in V̇O(2max). Nested two-way analysis of covariance demonstrated that both genetic selection history and access to wheels had significant positive effects on V̇O(2max). A 12% difference in V̇O(2max) existed between wheel-access selected mice, which had the highest mass-corrected V̇O(2max), and sedentary control mice, which had the lowest. The respiratory exchange ratio at V̇O(2max) was also significantly lower in the wheel-access group. Our results suggest the existence of a possible genetic correlation between voluntary activity levels (behavior) and aerobic capacity (physiology).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-76
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1998


  • Artificial selection
  • Heritability
  • Maximum oxygen consumption
  • Quantitative genetics
  • Wheel running

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of voluntary activity and genetic selection on aerobic capacity in house mice (Mus domesticus)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this