Couch potatoes born that way

Research from the University of Missouri (UM) indicates certain genetic traits may predispose people to being more or less motivated to exercise and remain active.

In the American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, UM veterinary researcher Frank Booth explains how he selectively bred rats that exhibited traits of either extreme activity or extreme laziness. The results, he says, indicate that it is possible to be genetically predisposed to being lazy.

Booth and his co-researchers put rats in cages with running wheels and measured how much each rat willingly ran on their wheels during a six-day period. They then bred the top 26 runners with each other and bred the 26 rats that ran the least with each other. They repeated this process through 10 generations and found that the line of running rats chose to run 10 times more than the line of “lazy” rats.

The researchers then studied the levels of mitochondria in muscle cells, compared body composition, and conducted genetic evaluations through RNA deep sequencing of each rat.

“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,” co-researcher Michael Roberts said. “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.”

The researchers now plan on continuing their research to explore the effects each individual gene has on motivation to exercise.

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Source: University of Missouri

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