Researchers looked at the interactions between the participants’ genetics and their self-reported exercise routines. To do this, they build a genetic risk score (GRS) for each participant based on their biological stats and risk factors. The study used five measures of obesity: body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage, waist circumference, hip circumference and waist-to-hip ratio. There were 18 different types of exercise measured, with six being found to mitigate the genetic effects of at least one of the obesity measures.
The results showed that regular jogging was the best weapon against the genetic risks associated with obesity. It specifically worked to combat BMI, body fat percentage and hip circumference. Other exercises measured, including mountain climbing, walking, yoga and dancing, had a good effect on BMI. Interestingly, researchers found that other exercises — such as stretching, cycling, swimming and tai chi did not effect the five obesity measures.
This was a surprising result for the authors of the study. But for those who loathe jogging, fear not: Five other types of exercise were also tied to a lower BMI among individuals at risk for obesity. These included mountain climbing, walking, power walking, certain types of dancing (such as ballroom dancing) and lengthy yoga sessions. The benefits of these exercises were biggest among those with the greatest genetic risk of obesity.
The findings don’t mean that these latter exercises can’t help with weight control. It’s just that they didn’t seem to offset the genetic propensity to gain weight. There could be several reasons for this. The researchers noted that, for the average Joe or Jane, cycling and stretching exercises tend to require less energy expenditure than the six exercises that were tied to a lower obesity risk. In addition, exercising in relatively cold water, as happens with swimming, may stimulate appetite and increase food consumption, the authors said. And “DDR” is not a formal exercise that requires consistent training, as is the case with ballroom dancing, the researchers noted. Because few participants in this study reported engaging in weight training, badminton, tennis or basketball, the study could not determine whether these exercises offset the risk of obesity genes.
As the study concludes, “the benefits of regular physical exercise, especially jogging, are more impactful in subjects who are more predisposed to obesity.”