Is running in our DNA?

One reason scientists study mice is, much as we may not want to admit it, we have a lot in common with our rodent relatives.

We share enough DNA and physiology that studying mice often reveals quite a bit about us humans.

So, does this recent study from Leiden University explain why many of us like to run?

In short, neurophysiologist Johanna Meijer set up a running wheel — yes, the kind you would put in a mouse, or rat, or hamster cage — in her backyard and, after enticing animals to come near with the help of some food, watched that they ran on the wheel. Not to get the food. Just to run.

Wild mice would often come back and run as much as caged mice — mice who usually have nothing else to do — would.

As Emily Underwood says of the study,

Rats, shrews, and even frogs found their way to the wheel—more than 200,000 animals over 3 years. The creatures seemed to relish the feeling of running without going anywhere.

Maybe this tells us why we like to run.

Or maybe it just explains treadmill sales 😉

Man running on hamster wheel