Maternal and paternal obesity and type 2 diabetes are recognized risk factors for the development of metabolic dysfunction in offspring, even when the offspring follow a healthful lifestyle. Multiple studies have demonstrated that regular physical activity in mothers and fathers has striking beneficial effects on offspring health, including preventing the development of metabolic disease in rodent offspring as they age. Here, we review the benefits of maternal and paternal exercise in combating the development of metabolic dysfunction in adult offspring, focusing on offspring glucose homeostasis and adaptations to metabolic tissues. We discuss recent findings regarding the roles of the placenta and sperm in mediating the effects of parental exercise on offspring metabolic health, as well as the mechanisms hypothesized to underlie these beneficial changes. Given the worldwide epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes, if these findings translate to humans, regular exercise during the reproductive years might limit the vicious cycles in which increased metabolic risk propagates across generations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Cell Biology
- Physiology (medical)