New European research has examined whether our desire to exercise – or to not exercise – is influenced by our genes. A team of scientists used a survey to collect data about 37,051 sets of twins from Australia, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK. From analysis of the results, the scientists concluded that our exercise behaviour is partially attributable to genetics – to the tune of approximately 60 per cent.
For the study, published by the Public Library of Science, just one hour per week of light jogging or an equivalent activity classified subjects as ‘exercisers’. Despite this, only 44 per cent of males and 35 per cent of females fitted this classification. It was found, however, that identical-twins were more likely to share an exercise pattern than fraternal twins.
Tuomo Rankinen, associate professor with the Human Genomics Laboratory at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana, and expert on exercise genetics, said that results would be a revelation to many people; ‘Most people probably hadn’t thought of exercise behaviour as a domain in which genetics would be involved’.
Rankinen continued; ‘Right now, most people don’t exercise, even though we all know that, for health reasons, we should’. He speculated that knowledge of our genetics may enable us to find ways to make exercise easier or more attractive for people, but concluded that, whatever your genes may say, the choice to exercise still remains with the individual.