For men planning to start a family, hitting the gym can help their children with a healthy metabolism.
While the diet and exercise habits of a pregnant woman can have an impact on the health of her baby, a new study on mice suggests that lifestyle practices of fathers prior to conception too can affect children's health in adulthood.
The findings explored that paternal exercise had a significant impact on the metabolic health of offspring well into their adulthood.
Offsprings from mice who exercised showed improved glucose metabolism, decreased body weight and a decreased fat mass in adulthood.
On the other hand, the sedentary male mice that fed on a high-fat diet passed along the traits of poor metabolic health and higher glucose intolerance.
However, exercise was found to mitigate the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle, the researchers said.
"This work is an important step in learning about metabolic disease and prevention at the cellular level," said K. Craig Kent, from Ohio State University in the US.
"Offspring from the dads fed a high-fat diet fared worse, so they were more glucose intolerant. But exercise negated that effect. When the dad exercised, even on a high-fat diet, we saw improved metabolic health in their adult offspring," added Kristin Stanford, a researcher from the varsity.
Importantly, exercise was found to change the genetic expression of the father's sperm that suppresses poor dietary effects and transfer to the offspring, the researchers noted in the paper published in the journal Diabetes.
Development of Type-2 diabetes and impaired metabolic health have been linked to parents' poor diet, and there is increasing evidence that fathers play an important role in obesity and metabolic programming of their offspring.
"We're now determining if both parents exercising has even greater effects to improve metabolism and overall health of offspring. If translated to humans, this would be hugely important for the health of the next generation," said Laurie Goodyear, postdoctoral student from the Joslin Diabetes Centre in the US.