Let’s Get Motivated to be Active!

For some time, exercise scientist had believed that motivation to exercise or not must have a genetic component.  Researchers have compared the physical activity patterns among family members, and especially with twins. They have found that close relations tend to work out similarly; they exercise about as much or as little as their parents or siblings do, even if they grew up in different environments. These results suggest that the desire to be active or lazy is to some extent, inherited.

Scientists at the University of Missouri in Columbia had interbred rats to create two very different groups.  One group loves to run and the other would rather remain idle.  They started with ordinary adult male and female lab rats, which generally embrace the opportunity to run, but individual mileage can differ to a great extent among rats.  The scientist put running wheels in the cages and for six days they tracked how much the rats ran.  The males and females that had ran the most miles were bred together, while the others who ran less were paired together.  Through 10 generations, the rats were bred the same way.  The active rats tended to exercise 10 times as much as the lazier rats.

The scientists studied the elements of physique and psychology.  People and animals that are overweight, ill, have poor muscle quality or tone, and other physiological hold ups to physical activity, tend to be motionless.  Of course if moving is difficult, we tend not to do it. After examination and comparison, the lazy rats were slightly heavier, but surprisingly average body compositions and percentage of muscle versus fat, were very similar. Both groups had similar healthy muscles and good appetites. The differences in physique were not a driven difference in the exercising behavior, but motivation played a different factor.  The researchers compared the activity of thousands of genes in a specific portion of the brain that controlled reward behavior, or motivation to do the things they enjoy.  The genes were very different between the two groups.  The rats’ decision whether to run or not was being driven by, at least the genetics of motivation. Frank Booth, a professor of physiology at the University of Missouri stated, “It does seem likely there is a genetic element to the motivation to exercise.” He also believes that scientist could conceivably develop a test that would reliably inform someone whether they are genetically influenced to be physically active or lazy. Dr.Booth’s study findings “are not meant to be an excuse to not exercise,”    he says, behavior remains a mix of native tendencies and personal choice.  If it is in your nature to sit idle on the couch, you can personally choose to get up and be active.

In reference to Why We’re Motivated To Exercise. Or Not