In addition to our mood, our lifestyle, our goals or our fatigue, our smell could play on the motivation we have to play sports, reveals a new study, published in the journal Plos One. Researchers at the University of California at Riverside (United States) have in fact discovered that olfaction could intervene in the motivation of mammals to voluntarily engage in physical exercise.
“Exercise, which is essential for physical and mental health, can help prevent obesity and other inactivity-related diseases and disorders in humans” Recalled Sachiko Haga-Yamanaka, assistant professor of molecular, cellular, and systems biology at UC Riverside and lead author of the study. “Some people like to exercise more than others, but it’s not clear why this is so“, he added.
To determine the genetic contributions to the traits linked to the voluntary performance of a physical exercise, Haga-Yamanaka and his team subjected mice to a voluntary race in a wheel, called “voluntary wheel running”, or VWR in English. This is the fact, for a mouse, to start running in a wheel when it has access to this type of equipment. The team created lines of mice with high VWR activity, let’s call them VWR +. The “normal”, unselected mice constituted the control group.
Genetic differences in the olfactory system
To their surprise, the scientists then discovered that the VWR + mice had developed genetic differences in their olfactory system (precisely at the level of thevomeronasal organ) which allowed them to perceive smells differently from witnesses.
“It is not inconceivable that one day we could being able to isolate chemicals and use them as air fresheners in gyms to make people even more motivated to exercise“Theodore Garland, co-author of the study, said in view of the results. And the researcher summed it up in three simple words:”spray, sniff and squat“, in other words “spray, feel, flex”.
Researchers now plan to conduct new experiments to isolate particular chemicals believed to be produced by mice, possibly in urine, and to determine if and how these chemicals increase motivation to exercise…