Physicians, nutritionists, athletes, and everyday citizens all share a vested interest in understanding the effects of diet and exercise, as well as ways to maximize lifelong health. While studies show that simply eating an apple a day may not keep the doctor away, there exists a wealth of research showing that the foods that we eat and the ways that we use our bodies do in fact change our bodies in profound ways. A team of researchers from the University of Jyvaskyla, particularly interested in the effects of exercise, conducted a recent study in an attempt to prove that exercise or the lack thereof differentially and directly impacts health, even in individuals who share similar genetic and environmental backgrounds. Using previous research from identical twin studies stored in Finland’s FinnTwin16 Database, this team of researchers identified 10 pairs of identical male twins, where one twin regularly exercised, while the other did not. In studying endurance, body composition, insulin sensitivity, overall fitness and metabolic health as well as indicators of brain functioning, the researchers found greater risks of poor health in the more sedentary twins including higher body fat, signs of insulin resistance, early signs of metabolic problems, as well as greater amounts of grey brain matter in the areas of the brain that control motor functioning and coordination in the more active twins. In isolating the effects of genetics and environment via identical twin studies, these researchers show that “genetics and environment don’t have to be destiny when it comes to exercise habits,” even despite the fact that our genes affect our “innate athletic capacity” and childhood environment shapes interests and behaviors. The evidence is quite compelling—our bodies are constantly changing, via nature and nurture, via habits of the past and present.
New York Times Article: http://nyti.ms/1AZWFoa
Original Study in the Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25003773
Post by: Vera-Jo Kiefer