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Do Bad Genes Guarantee The Couch Potato Life?


Earlier this week, I wrote about a study that theorized childhood obesity could be partly blamed on genetics. As I've said before, I don't buy that kind of thinking because you'd be helpless to do anything about your health if everything was predicated by your genes, which, of course, isn't true at all.

Another study, published in this week's Science, goes further down that "blame the genes" path. Researchers believe the difference in activity levels may be biological and inborn, a result of genetically determined levels of brain chemicals that govern a person's tendency to move around. It is their predisposition to be inactive that leads to obesity. In other words, they feel some people are "born" to be couch potatoes while others will be predisposed to burn calories, even if they have to walk around the work desk to do it.

Nevertheless, I found a positive note to take away from this study in the scientists' prescribed treatment of "couch potato" obesity. Simple and painless changes in one's daily activity, like making an effort to walk more and ride less, could help control weight. In fact, one researcher believes a lack of daily exercise -- too much time wasted by staring at the PC monitor on top of your desk, watching TV or excessive commuting -- contributes more to obesity than unhealthy eating habits.

Exercise is indeed a critical component of good health, especially as you get older. Some of the benefits, besides losing weight:

  • Sleep better.
  • Improve your resistance to fight infections.
  • Lower your risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
  • Help your brain work better, making you smarter.

However, most people are clueless that exercise is very similar to a drug and needs to be prescribed very precisely. To achieve the incredible benefits exercise has to offer, it needs to provide a significant cardiovascular stress to induce biochemical changes like increasing mitochondria in the muscle to burn fat while one is sleeping.

New York Times January 28, 2005

Daily Breeze January 28, 2005

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