Even shorter workouts help

Exercise changes the way fat is stored

Published: Wednesday 31 July 2013

NEXT time you put off lifting those weights, think again. Even short bouts of exercise might help reduce the risk of obesity or diabetes. Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have found that physical activity changes the action of genes involved in storage of fat. Exercise affects chemical groups attached to the DNA in a process known as methylation, causing the genes to be switched on or off. The researchers found that over 7,000 genes were affected in this way as a result of exercise. They also found that exercise reduces the activity of the key genes involved in storing sugar from blood stream inside fat cell.

The scientists asked 23 slightly overweight but otherwise healthy men to undergo exercise for six months. None of them had engaged in regular physical activity previously. These men managed to attend spinning and aerobic classes at an average of only 1.8 hours a week. The researchers found changes in the methyl groups. The researchers took DNA samples from the body fat of the volunteers before and after the exercise regime and compared the methyl groups on both.

After analysing 480,000 sites in each person’s DNA, they found 17,975 locations were altered on 7,663 genes. The human genome contains around 20,000 genes.

The scientists, whose study is published in PLoS Genetics on June 27, 2013 claim that the findings show the complex interaction between genes on diseases like diabetes and obesity.

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