The Role Of Genetics In Personal Fitness And Why It Matters

Not everyone thinks the path to personalized fitness goals is so easy. Those of us who sink into this mindset find any excuse to keep from achieving those all-too-important aspirations. Ask them, and you’ll be told they’re not excuses at all: they’re explanations. Is there something to it? After all, we also hear incredible success stories about obese people who have lost hundreds of pounds.

“I’m fat because my dad is fat, so this is a waste of time.”

“I’m too old.”

“I’m too busy.”

“I have kids! Don’t you see me cooking and cleaning?!”

How much do those excuses really matter? Scientific research continues to shed light on the long-asked question. According to the Department of Kinesiology Professor Stephen Roth at the University of Maryland, each of us pretty much rolls the dice when we’re conceived. No matter what numbers are facing up when the dice land, though, they mostly signify annoying handicaps and little else. Hard work can help us break past those seemingly unbreakable, but false, limitations.

We know that obesity is a strong factor for people who don’t want to exercise, and who can blame them? About seventy percent of those cases are due to genetics. Research shows you can work toward a healthy body weight through good nutrition and a strict regimen of routine exercise, though.

Here are the traits and activities that are most inherited from our parents:

  • Muscle mass; 50-60 percent.
  • Muscular endurance; 45 percent.
  • Height; 80 percent.
  • Aerobic fitness potential; 40-50 percent.
  • Likelihood of competing in various sports; 66 percent.

You might notice these factors come into play if you simultaneously start training with a buddy who is about your age, height and weight, and has about the same muscle mass as you. Don’t be surprised if one of you starts to outpace the other for no apparent reason. You were born that way!

Those factors that aren’t inherited but affect your ability to train include environmental factors such as diet, sleep, exercise patterns, etc.

It’s worth mentioning that most of these concerns matter most to world-class athletes who really do have to put in the extra effort to achieve their fitness goals. But for you and everyone else who isn’t training for the Olympics, it’s mostly about making a routine and sticking to it. While that may seem impossible, it really only takes the right motivation.

Another thing to note: scientists have only closely studied a few hundred of the 20,000 genes that comprise the human blueprint. That means we know a lot, but not nearly as much as we need to know to give a definitive answer. It might be that sometime in the future we can use gene editing techniques to add or remove a needed base pair to make our fitness goals that much easier!