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Are You a Couch Potato? Blame Your Genes

If you'd rather lounge on the couch and watch Sex and the City episodes for the 100th time rather than go out for a run or to the gym, don't be so quick to judge yourself as unmotivated or lazy. Turns out, researchers have identified a certain gene in mice that may be making exercise extra difficult for some. 

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that normal mice could run for miles, but that mice without the genes that control the protein AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) -- an enzyme that is switched on when you exercise -- could only run the same distance as down the hall and back. This is because the mice without the muscle AMPK genes also had lower levels of mitochondria and their muscles weren't as effective as the other mice at utlizing glucose when they exercised. 

"The mice looked identical to their brothers or sisters, but within seconds we knew which ones had the genes and which one didn't," Gregory Steinberg, associate professor of medicine in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and Canada Research Chair in Metabolism and Obesity, told ScienceDaily.

Although more research is needed for this study to apply to humans, researchers say it's good information for those who don't like to work out or are overweight and obese. Instead of using the research as an excuse to sit on the couch, people should use the information to get moving. 

"When you exercise you get more mitochondria growing in your muscle," Gregory Steinberg, associate professor of medicine in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and Canada Research Chair in Metabolism and Obesity, told ScienceDaily. "If you don't exercise, the number of mitochondria goes down."

Not sure where to start? Try one of these fun group exercise classes or this walking workout!

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