Exercise Affects Our Genes

Monday, 18. April 2016

Exercise Affects Our Genes

Listen up couch potatoes, there's no more excuses for not working out! We all know that exercise is healthy, but now we know that regular exercise even affects our DNA  on a molecular level!

In recent years, new discoveries have transformed our knowledge of our genes through new insights. New DNA research suggests that our influence on our genes is not passive, but can be influenced by exercise. 

Telomeres - protective DNA caps

The ends of chromosomes are called telomeres. They protect the DNA, although they tend to fray. To a certain degree, these caps can be restored, although the method doesn't work well in humans.

The shorter the telomeres are, the more it hinders the body's cells. When they no longer function properly, diseases arise.

Today we know that the main cause for the death of these caps actually has to do with our lifestyles. Tests have confirmed that athletic people have longer telomeres than unathletic people. This means that athlete's cells are erode, less quickly, or stay "younger". Thus, exercise keeps you young! Proper nutrition also plays a role in the length of telomeres. If you eat healthy and exercise, you'll be twice as likely to stay well.

Epigenetic- just shut off unpleasant genes

Exercise can do even more for the body though. Another new field of research is epigenetics. This field deals more with the effects of lifestyle than with our genes. In plain language, this means that based on our lifestyles, individual genes can be turned on or off. 

This allows people with a strong genetic predisposition to obesity still to have a normal weight. In the United States, a study looked into which members of the Amish (religious)community actually had an "obesity gene". Although the study found that the gene was present in some of the community's members, they were not overweight. Through their lifestyle (for religious regions, the Amish do not use machinery), the gene was shut off. 

So it is up to you to do something for yourself. Even if you know obesity runs in your family, this is not an excuse. Live healthy, exercise and eat right. Then, you'll have no problems.

If you want to start today, here are a few tips on  "taming" your inner couch potato! Keep up your good work long term.