Animals Bred for High Aerobic Fitness Live Longer

It is well understood that aerobic fitness is associated with increased lifespan in people. In middle aged and older adults, those who have the least capacity to exercise on a treadmill are the most likely to die in the following years.

Researchers decided to take this idea one step further and intentionally breed lab rats to create high aerobic and low aerobic capacity species.   In what they call the “aerobic hypothesis” they predicted the more oxygen per time an animal can consume, the longer it will live.

The researchers took common stock rats and bred them for treadmill running capacity.

After 14 to 17 generation of breeding, they developed high  and low exercise capacity animals.  These were then analyzed for survival.

They discovered that median lifespan for low exercise capacity animals were 28% to 45% lower than high exercise capacity animals.

The researchers concluded:

These data obtained from a contrasting heterogeneous model system provide strong evidence that genetic segregation for aerobic exercise capacity can be linked with longevity and useful for deeper mechanistic

Reference (Circ Res. 2011 Sep 15)

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2 Responses to “Animals Bred for High Aerobic Fitness Live Longer”

  1. Gnorb says:

    Considering humans are built to run long distances (ex:, might this explain why it is that humans’ maximum lifespans are longer than any other mammal? For example, if we spent thousands of years running after prey, it seems we would eventually attain longer lifespans due to increased aerobic exercise capacity.

    • Lyle J. Dennis, M.D. says:

      That is an interesting theory. I always imagined our species’ great longevity came about through the competitive advantage of having old wise people to educate the young about the observations of previous decades/generations.

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