Study: Genetics Explain 72% Of Exercise Outcome and Physique Changes

·2-min read
Photo credit: master1305 - Getty Images
Photo credit: master1305 - Getty Images

When it comes to fitness, a few things are unavoidable when it comes to seeing results. For example, you can't out-train a bad diet, weight-loss comes down to calories in/calories out and, perhaps most importantly, your genetics play a crucial role in how you look.

To that end, a new study from Anglia Ruskin University has revealed that individual genetics can account for up to 72 per cent of the difference in outcome between people after exercise.

Published in PLOS ONE, the study was led by experts from the Cambridge Centre for Sport & Exercise Sciences at Anglia Ruskin University and obtained results from 3,012 adults aged between 18 to 55-years-old who had not previously taken part in exercise. The purpose of the study was to determine how our genes can affect three types of physical activity: muscle strength, cardiovascular fitness and anaerobic power.

By using data from 24 separate studies, the study researchers proved how genetic differences were directly responsible for up to 72 per cent of differentiating outcomes after participants performed identical exercises focused on muscle strength. Similarly, genetics were responsible for 44 per cent of variation following cardiovascular fitness exercises and, lastly, for 10 per cent after anaerobic exercise. As the study describes, the remaining percentage can be chalked down to other external factors including diet, nutrition, recovery and injuries.

The researchers also suggested that gene testing could allow exercises to be personalised and tailored to each individual and, promisingly, could vastly improve rehabilitation strategies for patients and sportspeople.

"Our study found 13 genes that have a role in exercise outcomes, and we found that specific athletes contained within these genes are more suited to certain aspects of fitness. For example, with repetition exercises designed to boost muscular strength, genetic differences explained 72 per cent of the variation in outcomes between people following the same training," said lead author Henry Chung, a Postgraduate Researcher at Anglia Ruskin University.

"Because everyone's genetic make-up is different, our bodies respond slightly differently to the same exercises. Therefore, it should be possible to improve the effectiveness of an exercise regime by identifying someone's genotype and then tailoring a specific training programme 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."

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