Magazine

Rat Race

Kinesiology professor Ben Yaspelkis and biology professor Randy Cohen examined how exercise affects two different areas when it comes to the health of mammals as a whole – including humans. In 2015, Yaspelkis’ rat study, which has been ongoing for more than 15 years, focused on the impact of exercise on insulin resistance, also known as diabetes development and determent. He discovered that no matter what exercise the rats performed – be it lifting weights or running on a treadmill — both were equally effective in improving insulin function in the rats.

Cohen, who has been conducting research for more than 25 years, studied the neurological effects of exercise in rats with ataxia – the destruction of brain or spinal cord cells in the back of the brain, the cerebellum, which causes an inability to walk – to understand how it could benefit human ataxic patients. He found that if a rat was fed a high-fat diet and still exercised, certain factors in the brain did not change in ataxic patients – leaving cells to further deteriorate. Cohen highlighted the benefits of exercise in an article he released with CSUN biology graduate student Brooke Van Kummer in 2014.