There may be a fundamental link between aspects of an individual's personality and their capacity to exercise or generate energy, recent research suggests.
Humans are not the only animals that choose to exercise and as with people - individuals within the same species differ in their levels of activity, says Dr Peter Biro, a senior lecturer in the UNSW Evolution and Ecology Research Centre, in a review article in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, with colleague Judy Stamps of the University of California, Davis. Dr Biro is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow.
Likewise, scientists now recognise that many animals have 'personality', in that they display consistent differences in behaviours. Dr Biro believes it is significant that those behaviours often relate to the rates at which they acquire and expend energy through feeding or activity.
"Some of us are couch potatoes while others are drawn to sport and exercise," notes Dr Biro. "We often associate the athletic 'jock' type or person with being aggressive and social, whereas the more sedentary 'nerd' often is seen as more socially awkward and submissive.
"These are generalisations, but most people would probably agree there is some truth to them. If so, why should individuals differ in their propensity for activity and in their personality, and why might they be related? "
The article reviews a wide range of recent research into these questions and concludes that there is now enough evidence to suggest a link between an individual's personality and the rate of its metabolism the chemical process that converts food into the energy that fuels the body.
"Animals in captivity often engage in energetically demanding behaviour when they have unlimited food available," Dr Biro says. "Mice spend considerable time on running wheels, for example, and other animals often pace back and forth in zoo enclosures. Given they don't need to move
|Contact: Bob Beale|
University of New South Wales