What Role Do Genes Play In Fitness Potential?

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published Mar. 15, 2011
  • Updated Mar. 16, 2011 at 5:53 AM UTC

A new study has shed some light on the subject.

It’s an age-old question: How much of your ability to run fast (or far) is predetermined by your genetic makeup?

Not surprisingly, scientists have asked that very question and there’s a new study out with some possible answers. According to an article posted on The New York Times’ health blog, the study has been published in The Journal of Applied Physiology. Taking part in it were 473 healthy Caucasian volunteers who were already members of the Heritage Family Study, which is “an ongoing (and multiethnic) examination of exercise genetics that already has provided reams of epidemiological information about whether various exercise traits tend to run in families.”

The genomes of these volunteers were studied by researchers. According to the article, “The researchers’ aim is to discern whether tiny segments of DNA called single-nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs (pronounced “snips”), recur frequently in those with the traits. The presence of particular SNPs suggests that a particular snippet of the genome affects susceptibility to a disease or, in this case, exercise.”

For More: The New York Times

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Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin is the news editor at and a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released last July.

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