Is body weight influenced by your genes?

August 14, 2013 

The simple answer is yes. It has been scientifically proven that obesity, exercise behavior, cardio-respiratory fitness, and even eating patterns are highly influenced by our genes but it is still unclear just how large of a role genetics play. Since twins have identical genetic make-up but live in different environments, researchers have been able to determine how much of their body weight is due to genetics and how much is to individual lifestyle choices. Participation in physical activities and other exercise can significantly lower body fat regardless of genetic makeup.

The scientific study results estimate that the larger percentage of our body fat, approximately 68 percent, is determined by genetics. We can’t change our past environment, but we can change our current and future environment in order to influence our genes. We have the ability to change history and reduce the health risk of ourselves, our children and grandchildren. In order to accomplish this, we must start now to make lifestyle changes that will give us all a better chance at a longer and healthier life.

One way to influence your health future is to exercise in order to increase your metabolism and burn calories for hours after an intense workout. Almost everyone benefits from increased energy from a regular exercise routine. A simple exercise of high intensity walking will increase metabolism and energy in adults.

We have all heard that people lose muscle mass as they get older. The fact is adults age 50 and older can experience as much as 0.4 pounds a year of muscle loss if they do not have an active lifestyle that includes weight bearing exercise. Remember, older adults are just as capable of maintaining and even gaining muscle mass as young people are.

The key to preserving muscle mass is to progressively increase the amount of weight that is used by switching to heavier free weights or increasing the setting on weight machines at the gym. Remember, it is important to vary your exercise routine. After an average of 18-20 weeks of progressive resistance training, an adult can experience an increase of 2.42 pounds of lean muscle and increase overall strength by 25 percent to 30 percent. You have to admit that is a significant change in only three months.

Don’t wait. Make a commitment to yourself to change history and your health future by including weight bearing activities and walking to your daily routine. You will be happy you did.

Judy Schmoeger, a longtime resident of Lee’s Summit, is owner and general manager of Anytime Fitness.

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