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Exercise boosts intelligence of future generations


Family exercising

Parents who exercise may boost the intelligence of future generations, new research suggests.

Active mice are more likely to have offspring that show improved abilities to learn compared to rodents whose movement is restricted, a German study has found.

Such offspring also have better communication between cells in the regions of their brains responsible for taking on new information, the research adds, which is known as the hippocampus.


Exercise is thought to boost mice’s intelligence by altering Deoxy ribonucleic Acid (DNA)/genetic material in their fathers’ sperm, according to the researchers.

Previous findings suggest being active improves people’s memories, productivity and decision-making skills by boosting oxygen levels to their brains.

The researchers found sections of DNA, known as miRNA212 and miRNA132, may be responsible for improved learning in rodents’ offspring.

These DNA sections accumulate in mice’s brains after exercise.

Previous research suggests these stimulate the production of junctions between nerve cells, which allow messages to be transferred and may boost learning.

Study author Professor André Fischer, from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Disease, said: ‘Presumably, [miRNA212 and miRNA132] modify brain development in a very subtle manner improving the connection of neurons.

“This results in a cognitive advantage for the offspring.”

The researchers plan to investigate whether miRNA212 and miRNA132 accumulate in human sperm after exercise.

The findings were published in the journal Cell Reports.

Meanwhile, keeping fit, even if you are born with a high genetic risk for heart disease, still works to keep your heart healthy, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

In one of the largest observational studies on fitness and heart disease, researchers examined data collected from nearly a half-million people in the UK Biobank database.

They found that people with higher levels of grip strength, physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness had reduced risks of heart attacks and stroke, even if they had a genetic predisposition for heart disease.

“People should not just give up on exercise because they have a high genetic risk for heart disease,” said Erik Ingelsson, MD, PhD, professor of cardiovascular medicine. “And vice versa: Even if you have a low genetic risk, you should still get exercise. It all ties back to what we have known all along: It’s a mix of genes and environment that influence health.”

A paper describing the research was published online April 9 in Circulation.

Also, new research suggest that running during pregnancy is safe.


Women who jog while expecting are not more likely to have babies born prematurely or of a low birth weight, according to the largest study of its kind.

Infant wellbeing is unaffected regardless of how far their mothers ran or if they did so throughout all three trimesters, the research adds.

The findings were published in the journal BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine.

Lead author Professor Andrew Shennan, from King’s College London, said: “Women can continue accustomed exercise during pregnancy, and we would encourage this to ensure a healthy outcome for both her and her baby.”

A previous study suggests high-intensity running affects the cervix and therefore foetal wellbeing, however, the scientists of the current research argue this trial assessed just six pregnant athletes, not average runners.

Around one-third of pregnant women are unsure whether it is safe to continue running when expecting, according to a poll by the charity Tommy’s.

Guidelines recommend 30 minutes of moderate daily exercise for most pregnant women to reduce their risk of weight gain, pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes.

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