Hate working out? Your DNA may be to blame

Hate working out? Your DNA may be to blame

Can you be genetically predisposed to dislike exercise?

A new study says yes. The study tracked the exercise habits and feelings towards exercise of 115 pairs of identical twins, 111 pairs of fraternal twins and 35 of their non-twin siblings. Lifestyle interviews were conducted prior to the study to gauge exercise habits. Each participant then completed a 20-minute stationary bike ride and run. After, participants were asked how they felt and their opinions towards the exercise routine.

As a result, researchers found genetics can account for anywhere from 12 to 37 percent of the amount of enjoyment we may feel towards exercise. The study also proved the more a person said they enjoyed exercise, the more likely they were to routinely workout.

While this study does not guarantee a full-proof cause and effect as to why we may or may not workout, the study does demonstrate the association between genetics and how they can affect our feelings towards certain activities such as exercise.

“This study is an important reminder that attitude and mentality towards exercising is just as important as physical build and attributes,” says Dr. Emelie Ilarde, a family medicine physician at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. “It would be tremendously important and helpful for a physical trainer to know if their client is predisposed to feel negatively about routine exercise before even trying it. This way, the trainer can know right away that they may have to be more creative and patient with their approach.”

Similarly, Dr. James Maddux, an emeritus professor in psychology at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., told HealthDay that understanding genetics may cause a predisposition towards exercise can help with the creation of individualized exercise programs.

Dr. Maddux said this research can prove to be helpful in other ways, as well. For example, “Knowing that there is a genetic contribution may help the high-exercise-discomfort person engage in less self-blame, which can be demoralizing and discouraging.”

“Predisposed or not, it’s imperative you share your feelings towards exercise with your trainer or doctor so that he or she can determine how to best help you.” says Dr. Ilarde. “Everyone experiences exercise differently, and as a person who wants to be there to help you reach your fitness goals and stay healthy, it’s important that I know how you feel during the process.”

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Comments

4 Comments

  1. Um, how does a twin study prove anything about genetics? Were these twins separated at birth? Assuming not, then they shared the same genetics *and* the same environment.

  2. Though this is an interesting finding, there’s not much practical information in this article. What is the genetic predisposition to enjoying or not enjoying exercise? What are ways to overcome the genetic dislike of exercise? Are there differences in health outcomes for these types of people?

  3. I have never heard of a “full-proof cause and effect”. Researchers made twins ride a stationary bike for twenty minutes and asked them how they liked it ? Who finds stuff like this ? Was it at least a tandem stationary bike?

  4. I didn’t like working out when I first started. It was hard and I was sore after. I continued to do it because that’s what I was supposed to do, and now I love it. If you like it or not depends on if you are physically fit or not. I remember hating it and doing it anyway. Now I look forward to it. Also, what I found is that one week of the month, I’m not so into it. I contribute this to my monthly cycle. This article to me is not telling us much information.

About the Author

Jamie Bonnema
Jamie Bonnema

Jamie Bonnema, health enews contributor, is a specialist of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. She earned her BA in communications from DePaul University in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, going to concerts, and cheering on the Chicago Cubs.