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)