fbpx Skip to content


Is There an Exercise Gene?

| Earn 1 CEC - Take Quiz

Fitness professionals know that some people excel in exercise programs more easily than others. Skeptical personal trainers raise an eyebrow at clients who claim adherence but improve at a snail’s pace. However, rate of progress could be outside your client’s control. According to a recent study, some individuals may not possess the “exercise gene.” The study was published online ahead of print in the Journal of Applied Physiology (doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00973.2010).

The researchers analyzed several hundred thousand single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)—also known as DNA sequence variations—from nearly 500 individuals from three separate studies. Each study included a protocol in which the participants exercised at various percentages of VO2max. Each individual’s VO2max was assessed prior to and at the conclusion of each respective protocol.

At study completion, the scientists found that some participants had improved their VO2max, while others had not. They then studied the individuals’ SNPs to determine a possible association with VO2max. The researchers identified “a panel of 21 SNPs, which accounted for 49% of the variance in VO2max trainability.” Also, it was determined that individuals who possessed nine or fewer of the SNPs improved VO2max by 221 milliliters per minute (ml/min). Those with 19 or more of the SNPs improved VO2max by an average of 604 ml/min. “These genomic predictors of the response of VO2max to regular exercise provide new targets for the study of the biology of fitness and its adaptation to regular exercise,” the study authors observed.

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

When you buy something using the retail links in our content, we may earn a small commission. IDEA Health and Fitness Association does not accept money for editorial reviews. Read more about our Terms & Conditions and our Privacy Policy.


Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay up tp date with our latest news and products.