Longer workouts can seem daunting, but wait until you hear what the long-term payoffs are
It’s no secret that sticking to a regular exercise routine is good for your body and your mind. But until now, scientists haven’t known exactly how working out changes you physically (besides stronger and more sculpted muscles, of course). The answer lies in your DNA, report Swedish researchers.
In a study conducted by Karolinska Institutet, scientists found that adults who cycled for 45 minutes four times a week for three months experienced epigenic changes (that is, temporary genetic changes caused by environmental or lifestyle factors) in 4,000 genes. Most of the shifts were seen in enhancers—or a region of DNA that regulates other genes. There was more activity in the enhancers that control skeletal muscle adaptation and carbohydrate metabolism, for example, and less activity in the ones that trigger inflammation. That means endurance-training can improve the cells already in our muscles and teach them to produce better cells, too. (HIIT Exercise Can Change Your DNA as well, but in a different way.)
If you’re not already practicing an endurance sport, like cycling, running, or swimming, these tips can teach you How to Increase Endurance, as can these Muscle Endurance Exercises. But consider visiting your doctor before diving into an endurance exercise plan, as there’s a chance that longer workouts can aggravate preexisting heart conditions. (Learn more about The Real Risk of Heart Attack During Endurance Exercise.)