Are You Genetically Predisposed to be Lazy?

Love a lie-in? Can’t drag yourself off the sofa? Maybe it’s your parents fault! You know that fitness and exercise is important not only for physical wellness, but for your overall wellbeing too, but some people are just more “into it” than others – and genes may be the reason. This is according to a new study from researchers in the US, who have found that certain genetic traits may make you predisposed to being more or less motivated to being active.

For the study, researchers at the University of Missouri selectively bred rats that exhibited traits of either extreme activity or extreme laziness. Yes, humans and rats are different, but the researchers still assert that genetics can still play a role in exercise motivation in humans. Researcher Frank Booth explained, ‘We have shown that it is possible to be genetically predisposed to being lazy. This could be an important step in identifying additional causes for obesity in humans…It would be very useful to know if a person is genetically predisposed to having a lack of motivation to exercise, because that could potentially make them more likely to grow obese.’

The researchers evaluated the rats by putting them in cages with running wheels and measuring how much each rat willingly ran on its wheel during a six-day period. From this, the researchers bred the top 26 runners with each other and bred the 26 rats that ran the least with each other, repeating this process through 10 generations. The scientists then studied the levels of mitochondria in muscle cells of the “super runner” and “couch potato” rats, as well as comparing their body compositions and conducting genetic evaluations through RNA deep sequencing of each rat.

The results of the study showed that the line of running rats chose to run 10 times more than the line of “lazy” rats. According to researcher Michael Roberts, ‘While we found minor differences in the body composition and levels of mitochondria in muscle cells of the rats, the most important thing we identified were the genetic differences between the two lines of rats. Out of more than 17,000 different genes in one part of the brain, we identified 36 genes that may play a role in predisposition to physical activity motivation.’

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