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Fitness Genetics Impact Exercise Outcomes

Genetics impact individual response to exercise.

Crowd of people forming DNA to represent fitness genetics

If your clients train together in your small-group sessions and one complains that her buddy is building muscle mass faster—even though she’s doing the exact same routine—you can explain that part of the reason for this may be fitness genetics.

Anglia Ruskin University researchers in Cambridge, England, “identified 13 genes and associated alleles as being responsible for how well the body reacts to cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and anaerobic power exercises.” This finding suggests that, in the future, testing around fitness genetics may allow exercise programs to be further refined.

Researchers evaluated data from 3,012 adults ages 18–55. Investigators noted that genetic differences caused 44% of the variation in response to cardiovascular training and 10% of the differences in outcome from anaerobic power exercises. For strength training, genetic differences impacted as much as 72% of the variation in outcomes.

Lead study author Henry Chung, PhD, explained that “. . . 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.”

The study is available in PLOS ONE (2021; doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0249501).

See also: Genes and Exercise: Does it Matter?



Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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