Can exercise literally change your DNA?
This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying:
Technically, no. Our genes' underlying DNA sequences never change. But exercise can change how genes behave. Like whether they're turned on or off.
Changes happen when molecules called methyl groups attach directly to genes. It's called—surprise, surprise—methylation.
Previous studies showed that exercise changes methylation in muscle cells. Swedish researchers from Lund University wondered: How about in fat cells?
To find out, they took DNA from the fat of twenty-three male couch potatoes. Then each was supposed to do aerobic exercise three times a week, for six months. In reality? They averaged less than twice per week.
Even so, when the researchers rechecked the men's fat-cell DNA?
They found methylation of thousands of genes! Including ones linked to obesity and diabetes!
Not all the effects are clear. But one positive outcome? Lab tests showed the men's fat cells became less effective at fat storage.
Which will help the men stay trimmer—And make it easier for them to lift Ikea furniture! If not to assemble it. Still very tricky.
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The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
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