Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Blame Genetics for Laziness? Researchers Discover 'Exercise Gene'

I think it's safe to say that we all know some people who just love to exercise. Those people just can't stop moving around, they're always keeping busy and they seem to be way more into exercise and physical activity than most other people you know. Even in these times where we're all pressed for time, those fitness lovers always seem to be able to schedule in a sweat session. All this may leave most people scratching their heads or wishing they could do the same, but the truth is, there may be more than just willpower and drive behind this phenomenon.

According to Canadian researchers at McMaster University,there is a set of genes in our muscles that codes for an enzyme called called AMP-K that gets switched on during exercise. This enzyme converts food energy into muscle fuel and gives us the boost and motivation we need to exercise. Without it, we give up more easily and don't feel as compelled to exercise at all.

The study was performed using mice, half of whose genes were knocked, making them unable to produce AMP-K. In humans, the genes are identical and perform the same function. The knockout mice had fewer mitochondria in their cells which are known as the cellular 'power houses' that convert sugars into ATP, our cellular energy 'currency'.

Among brother and sister mice in the study, who were otherwise identical, those who lacked the genes were noticeably slower and less inclined to move around. In humans, these genes are essential, particularly for people living with diabetes, who have more difficulty using the sugars they consume and bringing the glucose in their blood into their cells.

The researchers noted that, in people who are sedentary, their genes may become dormant or temporarily 'switched off', making them less inclined to exercise. But before you start blaming genetics for your lack of motivation and lethargy, keep in mind that once you get back on track and back into a routine, the genes can switch right back on again, delivering that boost and and a new-found desire to exercise. That, in addition to repeating a little 'mind over matter' mantra should make you unstoppable!

So go on, strap on your runners or throw on your yoga pants and go feel the burn! Your body will thank you!