Burrowing as a novel voluntary strength training method for mice: A comparison of various voluntary strength or resistance exercise methods

Roemers, P., Mazzola, P. N., De Deyn, P. P., Bossers, W. J., van Heuvelen, M. J. G. & van der Zee, E. A. 3-Jun-2017 (Accepted/In press) In : Journal of Neuroscience Methods.

Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewArticle

BACKGROUND: Voluntary strength training methods for rodents are necessary to investigate the effects of strength training on cognition and the brain. However, few voluntary methods are available.

NEW METHOD: The current study tested functional and muscular effects of two novel voluntary strength training methods, burrowing (digging a substrate out of a tube) and unloaded tower climbing, in male C57Bl6 mice. To compare these two novel methods with existing exercise methods, resistance running and (non-resistance) running were included. Motor coordination, grip strength and muscle fatigue were measured at baseline, halfway through and near the end of a fourteen week exercise intervention. Endurance was measured by an incremental treadmill test after twelve weeks.

RESULTS: Both burrowing and resistance running improved forelimb grip strength as compared to controls. Running and resistance running increased endurance in the treadmill test and improved motor skills as measured by the balance beam test. Post-mortem tissue analyses revealed that running and resistance running induced Soleus muscle hypertrophy and reduced epididymal fat mass. Tower climbing elicited no functional or muscular changes.

COMPARISON WITH EXISTING METHODS: As a voluntary strength exercise method, burrowing avoids the confounding effects of stress and positive reinforcers elicited in forced strength exercise methods. Compared to voluntary resistance running, burrowing likely reduces the contribution of aerobic exercise components.

CONCLUSIONS: Burrowing qualifies as a suitable voluntary strength training method in mice. Furthermore, resistance running shares features of strength training and endurance (aerobic) exercise and should be considered a multi-modal aerobic-strength exercise method in mice.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
StateAccepted/In press - 3-Jun-2017


  • Journal Article

View graph of relations

ID: 48595561