News & Views from the Editor-in-Chief - L. Bruce Gladden
It's time to call out the set of highlighted articles for this month's issue. First, Gross McMillan et al. investigated the effects of exercise during pregnancy on the neuromotor development of one-month-old infants. Pregnant women were randomly assigned to either an aerobic exercise intervention (50 minutes of supervised moderate-intensity exercise, three times per week) or no exercise (control). At one month of age, relative to infants of nonexercisers, infants of women in the exercise group had higher scores on four of the five neuromotor development variables. These results suggest that exercise during pregnancy can positively influence developing systems, allowing for improved neuromotor development; thus, infants who are more adept at movement, and presumably more likely to be active. Since physical activity is a modifiable risk factor of childhood obesity, exercise during pregnancy could be an early preventative intervention to reduce the risk of childhood obesity.
Next, using a ground-based analog of simulated mission tasks, Sutterfield et al. evaluated the range of cardiorespiratory fitness needed for future terrestrial National Aeronautics and Space Administration missions. To achieve an accurate analog, individuals of relatively low fitness, similar to that expected with long-duration spaceflight, performed specific mission tasks at a metabolic rate reported for ambulation in simulated lunar and Martian gravity. Nomograms were developed to predict task failure using peak oxygen uptake, ventilatory threshold, and critical power, highlighting the role of maximal and submaximal aerobic fitness variables in mapping critical mission tasks. This work will help inform decisions regarding the readiness of crewmembers to perform physically demanding exploration tasks on terrestrial surfaces and guide the development of exercise countermeasures, including hardware, for exploration missions.
Finally, chronic stress is known to reduce the immune response to vaccination. Accordingly, Sun et al. investigated the effects of two forms of exercise (an acute bout of eccentric exercise and voluntary wheel running) on stress-induced reductions in vaccination responses in mice. Three weeks of restraint stress significantly reduced body weight and caused adrenal hypertrophy, indicative of a physical reaction to chronic stress. Both exercise interventions alleviated the chronic stress-induced anti-ovalbumin antibody reduction suggesting that this may be an effective strategy to overcome stress-induced immunosuppression. The results also provide rationale for future investigations of potential mechanisms underlying any exercise-induced augmentation of immune responses to vaccination in an immunosuppressive setting.
L. Bruce Gladden
School of Kinesiology