Exercise changes your DNA

It takes 50 to 100 strong coffees to mimic the effect of exercise on muscles. Image: Shutterstock

You could change your DNA through exercise and coffee consumption.

Physical activity has a number of health benefits — it burns calories, helps keep your weight in check and lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Now, researchers have discovered, it can also change your DNA.

Researchers found that just a few minutes of relatively strenuous exercise can dramatically change a person’s DNA. The study also suggests that caffeine may have the same effect.

Although the underlying genetic code isn’t changed with exercise, the DNA molecules are chemically and structurally altered in significant ways. In the case of muscle, exercise “˜cranks up’ the genes needed to burn fat and sugar and support the body.

“Our muscles are really plastic,” said Juleen Zierath, a professor of physiology ofKarolinska Institute, Sweden. “We often say “You are what you eat.” Well, muscle adapts to what you do. If you don’t use it, you lose it, and this is one of the mechanisms that allows that to happen.”

Researchers conducted the experiment by working with a group of 14 young men and women who were relatively inactive. These men and women then worked out on exercise bikes that measured their maximum activity levels. The researchers took a bit of muscle from the volunteer’s quadriceps in a biopsy procedure prior to exercise, and also 20 minutes afterwards to analyse the chemical changes.

They found that in human muscle tissue, DNA methylation — a molecular process in which chemicals called methyl groups settle on the DNA and limit the cell’s ability to access or switch on certain genes — decreased after the single intense bout of exercise. This decrease in methylation led to an increase in the activity of some genes that play a role in various processes in the cell, such as generating energy.

The researchers say that their study provides evidence on how an environmental influence such as exercise can cause the muscle to adapt. However, clarifying the mechanism by which this process works is unlikely to influence the daily activities of most people.

Although coffee was found to have a similar effect, unfortunately for those who would choose a cappuccino over a trip to the gym, it takes 50 to 100 strong coffees to mimic the effect of exercise on muscles.

Source: Eureka Alert


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