Mon. Nov 29th, 2021

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New research looks at the role of genes and their variants in training results. RunPhoto / Getty Images
  • Researchers from Cambridge University have published a meta-analysis in PLOS ET identification of 13 candidate genes associated with fitness results in previously untrained people.
  • Genetic influences accounted for 72% of the difference in the results of those in the strength training group.
  • Genetic factors had less effect on the results in the aerobic (44%) and anaerobic power groups (10%).
  • Further research is needed to determine the exact roles of fitness genes and how best to tailor workouts according to genetic makeup.

Physical activity is important to maintain health, reduce chronic diseases and prevent premature death. That 2018 Guidelines for Physical Activity for Americans recommend a combination of moderate intensity and vigorous intensity aerobic exercise along with muscle strengthening activities involving the major muscle groups.

That advice is for adults to perform 150-300 minutes of aerobic activity with moderate intensity, 75-150 minutes of aerobic activity with high intensity or a similar mixture. They can spread this activity throughout the week and should also participate in strength training of at least 2 days a week to reap additional health benefits.

The three components needed to determine health-related fitness are cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and anaerobic power. Cardiovascular or cardiorespiratory condition measures how efficiently the respiratory and circulatory systems supply oxygen to the skeletal muscles for energy production during physical activity.

The test for maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max) is a way to determine cardiorespiratory condition. The VO2 max test measures the body’s maximum oxygen consumption capacity during a strong intensity activity, such as running on a treadmill.

A higher VO2 max indicates an improved ability to supply and utilize oxygen and maintain aerobic activities with an increased intensity for longer periods. Low cardiorespiratory fitness is a prediction of cardiovascular disease and death of all causes in adults.

Muscle strength is the body’s ability to exert sufficient force against external resistance to perform tasks and maintain mobility.

An anaerobic activity is an activity that involves the breakdown of glucose into energy without the use of oxygen. Anaerobic power measures the body’s ability to move with the greatest intensity in a short time.

Increased cardiorespiratory fitness, muscle strength and anaerobic power can improve a person’s general fitness level, but the response to exercise varies considerably between individuals.

In a session at the 22nd Annual Congress of the European College of Sports Science, Dr. Bernd Wolfarth, Professor at the Department of Sports Medicine at Humboldt University, Berlin, “Environment is an important factor [for trainability], and today we know that about 25-40% of the variability of phenotype comes from genes, and the other 60-75% come [from] environmental effects. “

Specific genes are called candidate genes can predict successful responses to targeted forms of exercise. These genes can affect energy pathways, metabolism, storage and cell growth in the body.

These results prompted researchers from the Cambridge Center for Sport and Exercise Sciences at Anglia Ruskin University, UK, to perform a meta-analysis to identify the specific version, or alleles, of candidate genes related to the training response of untrained participants. The team analyzed strength, anaerobic power, and cardiopulmonary fitness.

Individuals inherit an allele of each gene from each parent. The individual is homozygous for the gene if both alleles are similar, and heterozygous if the two alleles are different.

The study also assessed whether the identified genes and alleles contributed to differences in training response among participants. The researchers analyzed the results of 24 different studies with a total of 3,012 participants. Of the cohort, 1,512 participants were men and 1,239 were women. The gender of the remaining 261 participants was not disclosed.

The average age of the participants was 28 years. There were 89 groups: 43 aerobics, 29 strength and 17 power. The researchers identified 13 candidate genes and alleles, nine, six and four of which were associated with cardiorespiratory fitness, muscle strength and anaerobic power, respectively.

On average, participants in cardiorespiratory fitness studies received aerobic exercise for 36 minutes of 3 days per week for a total of 12 weeks. The indicated intensity was 77% of maximum heart rate or 74% of VO2 max. The researchers attributed 44% of the difference in aerobic exercise response to genetic influences.

Strength training involved an average of 174 repetitions per. session with an intensity of 75% of maximum one repetition. Sessions took place 3 days a week for a total of 10 weeks. Genes accounted for 72% of the observed differences in the strength training group.

The participants in the anaerobic strength group performed an average of 4-12 cycle attacks of a specified intensity – 90-110% VO2 max or a load of 0.075 per. kg body weight – 3 days a week for 5 weeks. Genes had less influence in the power group, where only 10% of the variability in response was due to genetic influences.

Dr. Bert Mandelbaum, who is a sports medicine specialist and orthopedic surgeon at the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles and was not involved in the study, said Medical news today, “Genomics and the aspects of […] phenotypic and genotypic expression […] in terms of fitness and exercise are now being linked to a number of genomic patterns. “

“As we learn more about [the] phenotypic expression of a variety of haplotypes in genes that [will] be a spectrum of how we interpret these […] going forward – this is one of the studies that really shows it. “

The strength of this meta-analysis included the classification of study groups as either aerobic, strength or power and the assessment of gene subgroups. As the sample size of some genes was small in this review, further studies are needed to determine the exact role of these genes in affecting cardiopulmonary fitness, strength, and anaerobic power.

The results of future research may theoretically support individualization and optimization of training programs based on a person’s genetic composition.

Henry C. Chung, lead author of the study and Ph.D. researcher, pronounces:

“Because everyone’s genetic composition is different, our bodies react a little differently to the same exercises. Therefore, it should be possible to improve the effectiveness of an exercise program by identifying a person’s genotype and then tailoring a specific exercise program to them. ”

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