Posted: 22 January 2016
Surprisingly, it is a topic that seems to have rarely been considered, let alone studied. According to Halsey, researchers have not contemplated the idea that some animals don't undertake enough exercise during their general activities to give them the fitness levels required for infrequent yet high-intensity and vital activities such as fleeing from predators.
The article 'Do Animals Exercise to Keep Fit?' published in the Journal of Animal Ecology encourages more research on this topic and outlines a set of concepts and the experiments used to test them. Halsey points out that certain animals’ body condition (physiology) changes in response to environmental factors; for example, some animals put on more or less fat depending on whether there are many predators around. This underlines the importance that animals bestow on their physical state in maximising their capabilities given the environment they are in. The next question is whether this includes maintaining high levels of athletic capacity.
Dr Halsey, who leads the Roehampton University Behaviour and Energetics Lab (RUBEL), said, "If animals are undertaking activities solely or partly to keep fit, this opens up a significant new facet to our understanding and interpretation of animal behaviour. No one has previously observed animal behaviours and thought 'this behaviour could be associated with keeping fit.'"
Future findings could have implications for a wider understanding of animal behaviour. If some animals do exercise, they will have less energy for other activities, such as mating. Whether this trade-off exists, and how animals manage it if so, is what Dr Lewis Halsey argues needs to be investigated.
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Posted: 2 October 2017
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Posted: 13 September 2017
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Posted: 30 August 2017