Measuring Exercise Capacity and Physical Function in Adult and Older Mice

Ted G. Graber, Rosario Maroto, Christopher S. Fry, Camille R. Brightwell, Blake B. Rasmussen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The inability of older adults to maintain independence is a consequence of sarcopenia and frailty. In order to identify the molecular mechanisms responsible for decreased physical function, it will be critical to utilize a small animal model. The main purpose of this study was to develop a composite Comprehensive Functional Assessment Battery (CFAB) of well-validated tests to determine physical function and exercise capacity in 3 age groups of male C57BL/6 mice (6 months old, n = 29; 24 months old, n = 24; 28+ months old, n = 28). To measure physical function in mice, we used rotarod (overall motor function), grip meter (forelimb strength), treadmill (endurance), inverted cling (strength/endurance), voluntary wheel running (volitional exercise and activity rate), and muscle performance with in vivo contractile physiology (dorsiflexor torque). We hypothesized that CFAB would be a valid means to assess the physical function of a given mouse across the life span. In addition, we proposed that CFAB could be used to determine relationships between different parameters associated with sarcopenia. We found that there was an overall age-related significant decline (p <. 05) in all measurements, and the CFAB score demonstrated that some individual mice (the upper quartile) retained the functional capacity of average mice 1 cohort younger. We conclude that the CFAB is a powerful, repeatable, and noninvasive tool to assess and compare physical function and assess complex motor task ability in mice, which will enable researchers to easily track performance at the individual mouse level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)819-824
Number of pages6
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: [email protected].


  • Frailty
  • Function
  • Mouse models
  • Muscle
  • Neuromuscular decline
  • Sarcopenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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