Exercise can alter your DNA, study claims

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Although inherited DNA genes cannot be changed, the way that that genes express themselves can be altered by individual actions, it is said.

A work out can positively affect the way cells interact with fat stored in the body, a new study published in the journal PLOS Genetics found.

The genes have attached ‘methyl groups’ which affect what is known as ‘gene expression’. These can be influenced in various ways, such as exercise, diet and lifestyle.

Lead author Charlotte Ling, Associate Professor at Lund University Diabetes Centre, in Sweden, said: “Our study shows the positive effects of exercise, because the epigenetic pattern of genes that affect fat storage in the body changes.”

Researchers looked at the DNA of 23 slightly overweight but healthy men aged around 35, who didn’t regularly exercise, after attending spinning and aerobics classes for six months.

They found that changes had taken place in 7000 genes, over a third of the average total of 20,000.

A closer look revealed genes linked to diabetes and obesity, also connected to storing fat, had also been altered.

“We found changes in those genes too, which suggests that altered DNA methylation as a result of physical activity could be one of the mechanisms of how these genes affect the risk of disease.

“This has never before been studied in fat cells. We now have a map of the DNA methylome in fat,” Professor Lind said.

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