How well does your body respond to exercise? It’s in your genes
A systematic review of more than 20 studies has quantified the role genes play in how effectively our bodies respond to different kinds of exercise. The study found genes influence outcomes more prominently in muscle training exercises and propose in the future it could be possible to personalize exercise programs to individual genetic profiles.
“We know that exercise is good for us, but we all improve at different rates, even when following identical training regimes,” says lead author on the new study Henry Chung, from Anglia Ruskin University. “This means there are other factors at play.”
The systematic review and meta-analysis included 24 studies encompassing over 3,000 subjects. Three different exercise phenotypes were studied: cardiovascular fitness, muscle training, and anaerobic power.
“Our study found 13 genes that have a role in exercise outcomes, and we found that specific alleles contained within these genes are more suited to certain aspects of fitness,” explains Chung. “For example, with repetition exercises designed to boost muscular strength, genetic differences explained 72% of the variation in outcomes between people following the same training.”
Genetics was found to have the biggest influence on muscle training outcomes. The effect of genes on cardiovascular exercise outcomes was estimated at 44 percent, while the influence of genes on anaerobic, or short burst, exercise outcomes was only estimated at 10 percent. The research notes the low effect of genes on anaerobic exercise outcomes may be due to incorrect or inconsistent methods of measuring anaerobic power in prior studies.
Moving forward, the researchers propose exercise programs could be personalized to an individual’s genetic profile. Generic "one-size-fits-all" training programs could have little value if they are implementing interventions that are not suited to a person’s unique genotype, speculates Chung.
“Because everyone’s genetic make-up is different, our bodies respond slightly differently to the same exercises,” Chung says. “Therefore, it should be possible to improve the effectiveness of an exercise regime by identifying someone’s genotype and then tailoring a specific training program just for them. This could particularly benefit those who need to see improvements in a short period of time, such as hospital patients, or elite sportspeople, where marginal improvements could mean the difference between success and failure.”
The new study was published in the journal PLOS One.
Source: Anglia Ruskin University