A team of 54 jogging pigs in Arizona State University of Temple has revealed that what you eat is a lot more important than how much you jog.
Dr. George Seperich, the assistant professor who supervised the year-long pig experiment, said the research findings prove that "unless the running is very strenuous, dietary modifications have more effect than exercise upon a person's circulatory health.
"Jogging does have benefits in terms of weight control, though, and we can't say how it affects mental attitudes of either pigs or people."
Seperich and associates gained national attention last year when they jogged around a track with groups of pigs. The animals were taken from the university's farm and were assigned randomly to three diet groups that were high in saturated fat, high in unsaturated fat and normal.
Then each group was divided into exercise groups that jogged daily for five months, for two and a half months and not at all. The pigs' weight, blood composition and fat statistics were measured for the duration of the study.
Like many of their human counterparts, the pigs eagerly embraced the jogging regimen, at least at the start. But they quickly lost enthusiasm. "We never had any trouble getting them out to run," Seperich said. " . . . They'd go like crazy for about a mile and then we'd have to start harassing them to keep them going."
The researchers said pigs were chosen because their circulatory and digestive systems resemble those of humans.
The animal experiment began with an easy daily jog of about a third of a mile. Then the distance gradually was increased. The researchers found good news for dieters: the exercised animals willingly ate less, and gained less weight than the sedentary pigs. But the jogging failed to compensate for the effects of a high fat diet on the animals' blood composition.
"Most people don't push themselves hard enough [when running] to do any real good," Serperich said. "But if it makes you feel better, keep it up. It can't hurt."