Walking Helps Fight Obesity Gene Effects

By Emily Murray

As anyone who has ever sat through a high school science class can attest to, genetics (even at the very basic level) are complicated. You don’t need to have a comprehensive understanding though in order to understand a new study that yields some hopeful findings. Our physical activities can help fight the effects of certain weight-controlling genes.

This brand new study was reported at the American Heart Association’s Annual meeting in San Diego, California.

The bottom line of the study is that the researchers of the Harvard School of Public Health have found that walking for around an hour each day can actually reduce the effect of certain weight-related genes by 50%. These same genes conversely can actually be triggered by taking part in sedentary activities.

For those who simply believe that they are obese or overweight because of their genetic makeup, this study serves as a wake up call that you are not always powerless over the effects of your genetics. Like many aspects of health and behavior, you are influenced by both your genetic makeup and your environment.

How the Study Was Conducted
In order to test the theory, researchers were able to study more than 12,000 men and woman who were part of the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professional Follow-Up Study, a long running study that is helpful for tracking behavior patterns and health outcomes for medical professionals. For the purposes of this study, 32 specific genes were targeted that have been thought to correlate with BMI scores. Researchers were then able to cross check their BMI with the number of these targeted genes and then measure their results based on activity.

Those who walk at least an hour a day and have these genes can fight off weight gain more effectively than those who trigger the weight gaining effect of the genes by taking part in activities that require no real movement like watching TV for example.

Based on these findings we can take away that it is important to reduce “lazy-time” and increase movement throughout the day in order to ward off the effects of certain genetics. Fortunately this a fairly simple fix for those who are dedicated to improving their overall health and lowering their BMI score.