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UVA Researchers Use Mice Doing Squats to Study Exercise Impact

Doctor in a white lab coat
Zhen Yan is a researcher at the University of Virginia's medical school. (Photo: University of Virginia)

University of Virginia researchers are using weightlifting mice, doing tiny squats, to help us understand how exercise helps prevent diabetes and benefits health.

Zhen Yan, a researcher at the University of Virginia's medical school, has developed a model to encourage mice to exercise: "When the mice try to get to eat they push against a lever to get to the food."

By adding weights, he says, over eight weeks, they buffed right up, "These muscles become more powerful, bigger and they have better metabolic profiling."

Mouse lifting a weight. (Video: University of Virginia)

By understanding insulin levels and  other metabolic changes, Yan says doctors may one day be able to duplicate the benefits of exercise for people who can’t and create the elusive “exercise pill.”  He's using mice instead of people to enable a large-scale study, funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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