Genetics, Not Laziness, Might Be Why You Hate Exercising
For some, the hardest part of hitting the gym is lacing up their shoes. But for others, it’s the actual exercise that makes working out so excruciating. The labored breathing, sore muscles, and sweat dripping into your eyes can be a high or just one step above torture depending on which type of person you are. A new study aimed to determine what accounts for these differences, and it turns out your genetics might be to blame for how much you dread going for a run.
The British Psychological Society’s Research Digest reports on a study at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands, which enlisted 115 pairs of identical twins, 111 pairs of non-identical twins, 35 siblings related to the twins and 6 sibling pairs not from families with twins. Everyone rode an exercise bike for 20 minutes and completed a 20-minute run, both at a comfortable pace. Researchers monitored breathing to ensure the workouts were low intensity, and a warm up and cool down accompanied the routines. Subjects also completed a second short ride on the exercise bike that was more vigorous.
The siblings completed assessments while exercising, answering how they felt while working out, how much effort they put in, and whether they were energetic, lively, jittery or tense. Additionally, participants were interviewed about how often they exercised and to what intensity. Using the responses, researchers determined the participants’ psychological state during physical activity.
Then, scientists looked at the data to determine whether identical twins, who also have identical genes, had similar responses to exercising compared to fraternal twins and non-twin siblings. This allowed them to theorize how much genetics actually played a role in someone’s mental state during physical fitness. They concluded that genetics could account for up to 37 percent of the differences in the way people experienced exercise. Unsurprisingly, people who enjoyed fitness were prone to doing it more. However, it’s important to note that the study doesn’t show a cause and effect relationship.
While this new research indicates that some may not be born to love fitness, there’s no denying that we should still do it. Aside from helping maintain weight, working out can lift your mood, reduce stress and anxiety, strengthen bones and and reduce risk of certain diseases.