March 7, 2012
DNA Altered By Strenuous Exercise And A Strong Cup Of Coffee
Bad news for those who use their genetic makeup as an excuse not to hit the gym: Researchers have found that our DNA can be altered with just a few minutes of strenuous exercise.
Writing in the March issue of Cell Press publication Cell Metabolism, researchers have posted results of a study which prove that strenuous exercise, even as brief as a minute, can immediately change our DNA.By studying healthy yet inactive men and women, these researchers found that we are more in control of our bodies than we have previously thought.
The changes made to the DNA molecules isn´t a complete overhaul, however. The basic genetic code that makes up the DNA remains the same. What modifications are made appear to be the early stages of genetic reprogramming. This reprogramming is the foundation for building muscle strength and ultimately the metabolic benefits of exercise.
In other words, exercise jump starts your DNA to begin to burn fat and build muscle. According to the Cell Metabolism report, even a brief yet brisk 20 minute bicycle ride can make all the difference.
Researcher Juleen Zierath of the Karolinska Institute of Sweden had this to say about their findings: "Our muscles are really plastic. We often say that you are what you eat. Well, muscle adapts to what you do. If you don´t use it, you lose it and this is one of the mechanisms that allows this to happen.”
Along with colleagues from Dublin and Denmark, Professor Zierath conducted 2 experiments with men who did not exercise regularly, yet were relatively healthy. The researchers had the men exercise vigorously on an exercise bike before they took slivers of muscle from the mens´ thighs. The DNA found in these muscle tissue samples were then analyzed for chemical changes.
A simple walk in the park may not be enough to spark this genetic change, however. According to the research, a person must be out of breath and, while able to speak, must have some difficulty carrying on a conversation.
The results of these tests showed similar results from contracted muscle tissues created in a test-tube from previous research. The muscle tissue also reacted similarly when subjected to the caffeine.
Zierath stated that while caffeine does mimic this same sort of contraction that comes with exercise, one would need to imbibe in 50-100 cups of coffee to have the same effects of exercise on the muscles.
Overall, the results of this research tell us that our body´s genetic makeup is much more malleable than previously thought. Just as we grow and evolve to our surroundings, so too does our DNA evolve to our environment.
Zierarth states “Exercise is medicine”, suggesting that being active and partaking in plenty of exercise can actually heal us from the inside out. And if the exercise doesn´t do the trick, then maybe a strong cup of coffee will.
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