Written by: Jonine Möller, M.Sc. Sport Science
We all know those people who seem to be addicted to exercise, while others can just as well have been allergic to physical exertion. Why is this? What causes this difference in behaviors? Research shows our genes influence our predisposition to engage in physical activity.
Physical activity is essential for overall health and for preventing metabolic conditions and cardiovascular disease. Regular physical activity also increases your overall energy levels. However, most people don’t reach the minimum recommended activity levels worldwide. Therefore, better strategies are needed to increase the average person’s physical activity.
There are many reasons for the general inactivity of modern society, but among these is the discomfort of exercise and people’s disliking thereof. Genetics have been found to influence people’s inclination to be physically active.
Our day-to-day lives don’t typically involve much physical activity. Therefore, we depend on formal exercise for our physical activity quota. However, this requires conscious planning and time out of our day and, thus, enough motivation.
One way to make exercise less torturous is to exercise according to your genetic preferences, i.e., do the types of training for which your body is naturally built. If your genes make you less likely to engage in spontaneous physical activity, exercise must be as enjoyable as possible. Otherwise, chances are you won’t increase your physical activity levels.
We are all put together differently. Some individuals are naturally more comfortable with aerobic endurance activities due to having genetic attributes such as a larger or stronger heart and blood that can carry more oxygen. Other individuals are naturally strong and fast, and their bodies thrive more naturally when exposed to exercise that uses and improves these abilities.
Doing the exercise your body is naturally built for is more comfortable than doing exercise for which you don’t have natural abilities. One of the secrets to successfully initiating and continuing with a new exercise program is finding out what your body wants by testing your genes.
Being unfit causes exercise to be more uncomfortable. Thus, after you find out what type of exercise to do according to your genes, start with short, light exercise sessions that you find easy enough to tolerate. Then progress slowly as your fitness improves. Slow, consistent progress brings about the most long-term success.
Knowing what exercise is genetically more suited to your body is the first step towards increasing your long-term physical activity. Movement requires energy, though, which is dependent on proper nutrition. Your genes also withhold what your body’s specific nutrient needs may be.
Exercise can be enjoyable and satisfactory, especially if you see results. Results partly depend on how well you embrace your genetic makeup regarding your exercise type and how well you fuel your body. Testing your genes might precisely be what you’ve needed this whole time to be enabled to choose how to become more physically active.
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