fitness · research

Of mice, men, and morning/evening exercise: the commenters weigh in

On Saturday I posted about a new study investigating whether morning or evening exercise is better (in what sense? they don’t say) for us. Spoiler: it doesn’t matter, at least as far as they know.

The investigators did their study using mice– male mice in particular. This did not go unnoticed by me, and certainly was noted plenty in the comments section.

The male bias remains. Even with mice.
The male bias remains. Even with mice.
Don't the most reliable studies include, uh, how do you say, women?
Don’t the most reliable studies include, uh, how do you say, women?
Let me know when researchers bother to study women and then I'll pay attention to them.
Let me know when researchers bother to study women and then I’ll pay attention to them.

Some made inquiries about where the female mice might be, along with plausible explanations:

Maybe no female mice were available.

Someone suggested they (the female mice) were tied up with other duties.

The females were holding the community together, as expected.

There were commenters who tried to defend the use of male-only mouse subjects on grounds of it-being-too-hard-to-do-science-on-female-organisms. Yeah, we’ve heard that before.

Longish quote claiming that organisms with estrogen cycles are way too complicated (and expensive) to do research on. Ah, okay.
Claim that organisms with estrogen cycles are way too complicated (and expensive) to do research on. Ah, okay.

You didn’t think I was going to let that one get by me, did you?

My response: testosterone cycles are complicated. Estrogen cycles are complicated. We don’t favor one over the other in doing research science. That would wrong. The NIH agrees.

Another attempted defense of the men-mice-only research plan came from this comment:

Using males and females in the same study would result in inadvertent mating, primarily among the most popular mice. ???
Using males and females in the same study would result in inadvertent mating, primarily among the most popular mice. ???

There’s a lot here, but let me just say that the mice could be held in separate cages, which would provide a low-tech solution. Am I missing something here?

In response to the male-mice-only defenders, someone suggested maybe doing more and better science might solve the air of mystery surrounding the ovulation cycles of female mice.

If we don't understand something, we should study it more. Duh.
If we don’t understand something, we should study it more. Duh.

And I’m sure this person was trying to help, but…

Bring out the lady mice!
Bring out the lady mice!

Finally, someone got to the heart of the matter, pointing out what scientifically aware readers want to know:

What we need to know is when is the best time to exercise to metabolize cheese? These subjects should be experts on the matter…

Readers, what do you think? Do you personally know any female mice who’ve been turned down for science experiments? Have you metabolized cheese after-hours or only during daylight? Is ovulation too mind-blowing even to think about, much less study in a scientific fashion? I’m hoping that future comments sections will enlighten me as much as this one opened up a host of new questions…

3 thoughts on “Of mice, men, and morning/evening exercise: the commenters weigh in

  1. Living in Wisconsin, I agree with using mice for the study. As a previous commentator noted, it is important to consider the metabolism of cheese. Perhaps I should eat some cheese, step into my skis, and do some research. With n=1, it will only be a case study.

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  2. I’m also a scientist who works with mice and the estrogen cycle response was the standard response for many years. I work in immunology so we do use different sexes of mice to model different diseases, for example we use female mice to model autoimmune disease. All grants going in now to the NIH are required to test in both male and female mice. There is change but it is slow going…

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