Scientists involved in this research have suspected and sometimes shown that exercisers, whatever their species, tend to become hungrier and consume more calories after physical activity. They also may grow more sedentary outside of exercise sessions. Together or separately, these changes could compensate for the extra energy used during exercise, meaning that, over all, energy expenditure doesn’t change and a person’s or rodent’s weight remains stubbornly the same.
Proving that possibility has been daunting, though, in part because it is difficult to quantify every physical movement someone or something makes, and how their movements do or do not change after exercise. Mice, for instance, skitter, dart, freeze, groom, eat, roam, defecate and otherwise flit about in frequent fits and starts.
But recently, animal researchers hit upon the idea of using infrared light beams to track how animals move at any given moment in their cages. Sophisticated software then can use that information to map daily patterns of physical activity, showing, second-by-second, when, where and for how long an animal roams, sits, runs or otherwise spends its time.
Intrigued, scientists at Vanderbilt University and other institutions thought that this technology would be ideal for tracking mice before and after they started exercising, especially if
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