Genetics + Environment ≠ Inevitable Health Profile

A new study gives insight into the role of exercise on overall health measures while controlling for genetics and childhood influences. A study out of Finland examined ten sets of identical twins for the effects of exercise on health and brain development while controlling for genetics and childhood influences. One twin was active physically and the other was sedentary.

AA052490Ten sets of identical twins from Finland, who grew up together, obviously sharing the same DNA, were examined. While their pasts were similar, their future exercise habits differed. While past studies of twins with respect to divergent exercise habits focused on their effects on aging, this study focused on factors that measured overall health: endurance capacity, body composition and insulin sensitivity. The sedentary twins exhibited lower endurance capacity, higher body fat percentages and signs of metabolic problems with respect to insulin resistance. The active twin had more grey matter than his sedentary counterpart especially in the areas having to do with motor control and coordination. Interestingly, the twins had similar diets. This led the research team to conclude “that the results strongly imply that the differences in the twins’ exercise habits caused the differences in their bodies.”

On the bright side, genetics and environment don’t equal inevitability. We can make significant changes with respect to exercise regimens that can dramatically impact our overall health and that of our brains.

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