Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Exercise

Scientists discover gene that may protect from hypertension

Giraffes are extreme. Given their long necks, their blood pressure is 2.5 times higher than ours, which ensures that oxygenated blood makes it all the way up to their head. Having high blood pressure, however, is simply a normal characteristic of being a giraffe. A new study published in Science Advances explored the giraffe genome to identify genes that might help protect the cardiovascular system of giraffes by comparing their […]

Continue Reading →

How exercise training and diet may impact exercise performance

Both diet and exercise training are associated with muscle performance and endurance. Migratory birds undergo intense endurance exercise. In fact, a recent review indicated that flapping flight costs more energy (9 x increase from basal metabolic rate) than required by elite athletes competing in the Tour de France (4.3 x increase from basal metabolic rate) (Butler, 2016). Unlike running animals, migratory birds fuel endurance exercise with fats as opposed to […]

Continue Reading →

Take Time for Activity Snacks

There went another day spent sitting at my computer in virtual meetings with easily accessible snacks in the kitchen nearby. Okay, granted this is not a comparative physiology topic. But it is something many of us can relate to in this age of Covid-19. In a new study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers explored what happens when people seek out so-called “activity snacks” instead of the salty […]

Continue Reading →

Are humans really just upright cats?

Okay seriously, humans are not actually cats. But, humans and cats do share similar nervous system control over how we move from one place to another, i.e. locomotion as described in a recent review article published in Physiology. The ability for mammals to finely control movement depends on two main control systems located in the brain and spine as well as sensory feedback from the skin, muscles, tendons, eyes, and […]

Continue Reading →

The evolution of sugar addiction

I have been opening Christmas cards and pondering the science of sugar addiction, admittedly while snacking on sugar cookies – ‘tis the season after all! Excess consumption of highly palatable (i.e. quite tasty) foods as well as sedentary lifestyles are thought to be at the root of the current obesity epidemic. In fact, it is thought that as many as 30% of people living in developed countries are either overweight […]

Continue Reading →

Live fast, die young

Researchers have long known that smaller animals have higher metabolisms and tend to die younger than larger animals. Think about it – a mouse typically only lives about 2 years whereas an elephant in the wild may live 50-70 years, depending on the species. After studying over 700 species of birds and 540 species of mammals, scientists discovered that migratory animals also live faster (mature and reproduce earlier) and die […]

Continue Reading →

Speaking of space…’Mighty Mice’ stay mighty muscular in space

While we are on the topic of research conducted by astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS), Space X’s 19th resupply mission to the ISS included studies that might help prevent muscle loss in astronauts as well as humans on Earth. While exercise programs have been developed for astronauts, these programs may not be as useful for long-distance space travel – such as a trip to Mars. This is where […]

Continue Reading →

Extreme flight

May I have a drumroll please? The winner is…..the bar-tailed godwit!! *round of applause!!!!* The winner of what you may ask? This bird broke the world record for the longest non-stop flight – 7,500 miles – without the luxury of in-flight service. I bet it was hungry when it landed…

Continue Reading →

Amazing dives

Researchers at Duke University recorded how long whales stay underwater during dives and made an impressive discovery. Some Cuvier’s beaked whales were capable of exceptionally long dives. While most dives were less than 78 minutes long, one animal performed a dive that lasted more than 3 hours! Interestingly, the recovery times from the dives did not appear to have a clear relationship with the dive duration. Researchers think these animals […]

Continue Reading →

Getting louder costs more energy

Bats produce sounds to navigate their surroundings in a process called echolocation. The problem is that sound does not travel very well through air. To overcome this barrier, bats produce very high-intensity sounds. In fact, some bats can even produce sounds that are around 137 decibels sound pressure level (dB SPL), which is near the range that can cause hearing damage in people. Just like people, bats call at higher […]

Continue Reading →