The New Discovery About Genes and VO2 Max

There is a theory that when you spend hours in the gym, the pain will definitely result in gain. Gain means a perfect body shape and a good health. But lately a new study suggested that genes can also be a determinant on how physical exercise could really benefit us.

According to, “Physical exercise doesn’t just burn fat; it also pumps a gene that makes our fat burning machinery work better.”

While researchers agree that exercise has many benefits, they are now specifically looking at VO2 max or aerobic capacity. Aerobic is defined as an exercise that increases the need for oxygen. VO2 max is the complete amount of oxygen per minute that a person needs per kilogram of bodyweight. It is the maximum amount of oxygen that a person needs during an intense or maximum exercise.

VO2 max represents endurance. It is often used to compare the performance of endurance sports athletes. This analysis as detailed in the Journal of Applied Physiology proposes that a group of 29 genes could possibly determine individuals who belong into low, medium and high responders to exercise.

Twenty years ago, some scientists headed by Bouchard questioned the transparency of the link between training and fitness level. They trained around 500 inactive or sedentary individuals for 20 weeks to determine every participant’s ability to be fit. The results varied a lot despite the uniformity of the exercise activities.

In that experiment some participants increased their VO2 max up to 50 percent while the rest didn’t change. The participants were related so the scientists checked if it had something to do with the genes. Indeed, it has. The 50 percent of the participants were genetically related. It was then concluded that a noticeable portion although not all of a person’s capacity to be fit is set by heredity.

For the low responders, they saw no improvement in their tolerance to exercise but their levels of cholesterol and lipids improved remarkably. For those who improved their fitness or increased their VO2 max, the levels of their blood pressure or cholesterol did not improve. These factors became one of the indicators of a heart disease risk which are also genetically related.

But with this observation, Bouchard said, the scientists can now identify with a probable degree of precision who the low responders are, the average, and the high responders. They can now begin to rank people for their ability to be trained before they are trained.

In the continuous process of their study, their initial findings have practical uses already. It will help people to know what kind of responder are they so they can specifically know the kind of training that they will need to increase their endurance. This is most useful for selecting a job that requires a high level of fitness.

The scientists also emphasized that exercise has still many benefits. It’s not all about improving the aerobic capacity or endurance. Exercise can still make you lose weight and prevent other health risks such as cholesterol levels and maintain a good heart.

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