Physical activity of adult female rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) across the menstrual cycle

Nathan A. Hunnell, Nathan J. Rockcastle, Kristen N. McCormick, Laurel K. Sinko, Elinor L. Sullivan, Judy L. Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Physical activity is an important physiological variable impacting on a number of systems in the body. In rodents and several species of domestic animals, levels of physical activity have been reported to vary across the estrous cycle; however, it is unclear whether such changes in activity occur in women and other primates across the menstrual cycle. To determine whether significant changes in activity occur over the menstrual cycle, we continuously measured physical activity in seven adult female rhesus monkeys by accelerometry over the course of one menstrual cycle. Monkeys were checked daily for menses, and daily blood samples were collected for measurement of reproductive hormones. All monkeys displayed ovulatory menstrual cycles, ranging from 23 to 31 days in length. There was a significant increase in estradiol from the early follicular phase to the day of ovulation (F1.005,5.023 = 40.060, P = 0.001). However, there was no significant change in physical activity across the menstrual cycle (F2,12 = 0.225, P = 0.802), with activity levels being similar in the early follicular phase, on the day of the preovulatory rise in estradiol and during the midluteal phase. Moreover, the physical activity of these monkeys was not outside the range of physical activity that we measured in 15 ovariectomized monkeys. We conclude that, in primates, physical activity does not change across the menstrual cycle and is not influenced by physiological changes in circulating estradiol. This finding will allow investigators to record physical activity in female primates without the concern of controlling for the phase of the menstrual cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1520-E1525
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2007


  • Accelerometer
  • Estradiol
  • Reproductive hormones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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