As we learn from the experiments, their results were presented in the pages Scientific reportsRegular activity can modify molecules in the human body. However, these affect our performance at the genetic level.
The authors took into account the features of the twins and came to the conclusion that people who devote more time to physical activity were less likely to develop metabolic disease than their less active siblings. To do this, the researchers analyzed body mass indexes and waist sizes.
As it turned out, the differences did not appear only at this level. Changes are observed in epigenomes, that is, chemical alterations to DNA that can affect gene expression without altering the actual DNA sequence. Moreover, the more active twins had genetic markers associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Exercise leads to noticeable changes even among identical twins
The findings provide a molecular mechanism for the link between physical activity and metabolic diseases. Exercise is known to reduce susceptibility to obesity, but it now appears that exercise through epigenetic inheritance affects many cell types, many of which are involved in metabolic diseases.
explains Michael Skinner, one of the authors
For the analysis, the researchers collected cheek swabs from 70 pairs of identical twins. Data was collected on their biographies from 2012 to 2019. The researchers used fitness trackers to measure physical activity. They also took into account the participants’ waists and body mass indexes. Participants also had to answer questions about their lifestyle and where they live.
The results of buccal swab studies have been shocking. Clear genetic differences were observed: twins with a high level of physical activity (at least 150 minutes per week) showed genetic changes in DNA methylation regions. There was an association with lower body mass index and smaller waist circumference. In addition, these regions are associated with more than fifty genes already identified as being specific to people who engage in regular physical activity. So we have other—and very strong—evidence that exercise pays off. And on many levels!
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