Gym enjoyment genes

I blame my parents for a lot of things: my poor eyesight, my Catholic guilt, my big nose. But several studies, cited in the LA Times, give me something else to blame on them: my level of fitness bliss.

The studies suggest you may enjoy exercising more because of your genes.

Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean those without these magic genes don’t exercise, but it does explain why some people have a harder time hitting the gym.

"We all know people who can't sit still and we all know people who can't get off the couch," says J. Timothy Lightfoot, an exercise physiologist at the University of North Carolina.

A Swedish study found twice as many identical twins, who have the same exact genes, share exercise habits compared to fraternal twins, who only share half their genes.

"We now have more than 20 twin studies showing almost unanimously that [identical] twins are more alike in their physical activity than [fraternal] twins," said geneticist Claude Bouchard.

Not only are exercise habits linked to genes, workout enjoyment is also a major factor. A study of mice’s brains showed those that ran a lot got more pleasure out of it than regular mice. And human studies have also linked exercise frequency to dopamine.

What’s the point of all this? "Some day we could be giving people pills to make it more pleasurable to run,” said physiologist Theodore Garland at UC Riverside. I’m all for that. As it is I think the illustrious “runners high” is basically a spin on the Emperor's New Clothes, but maybe that’s just because I have the wrong genes.

What do you think?


“Gym enjoyment genes”