Some women may get more benefit than others from doing the same type of exercise, and genes are part of the reason why, a new study finds.
Women in the study who had certain genetic markers gained weight after following a strength-training regimen for a year, whereas women who didn’t have those markers lost weight after following the same regimen, researchers said. The researchers looked at genes that have been linked in previous studies with an increased risk of obesity.
The findings may mean that women whose genes predispose them to obesity need to do more exercise to get their desired weight-loss results, and may also need to pay more attention to their diet, said study author Yann C. Klimentidis, an assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics.
“There is just a higher wall to climb if you have a high genetic predisposition for obesity,” Klimentidis said. However, he noted that “exercise is good for your health in lots of ways, not just body composition and weight.”
In the study, the researchers examined DNA samples from 84 women ages 30 to 65, focusing on genes linked with obesity. The investigators asked all the women to engage in high-intensity resistance exercise and moderate-impact exercise with weights for at least one hour, three days a week, for a year. To analyse the effects the exercise had on the women, the researchers grouped them based on their genetic risk of obesity.
The researchers found that exercise had a greater effect on both weight loss and body fat in the women whose genetic risk of obesity was lower, compared with the women whose genetic risk was higher.
For example, women whose genes put them at a high risk of obesity gained an average of 1.2 kilograms during the study period, whereas women whose genes put them at a low risk of obesity lost 1.3 kg, on average.
In addition, the researchers found that women whose genes put them at a high risk of obesity maintained the same percentage of body fat over the study period, whereas women whose genes put them at a low risk of obesity lost 2.7 percent of their body fat, on average.