- Advertisement -

Did you know DNA affects your exercise motivation?

Exercise begets exercise. This means that Susie, a seasoned runner, is more likely to continue running than Mike, who has never set foot in the gym. It’s a proven fact that people who exercise are more likely to keep it up, because really, the hardest part about exercising is getting started.

Motivation is the biggest hurdle to taking up running or going to the gym, whether it is the need for a partner in crime, or the strength of will to subject ourselves to a gruelling routine. Without proper motivation, we procrastinate and find excuses to avoid exercise.

But for some of us, going for a bike ride or a run almost feels like second nature. This may be because we have inherited an advantage in the form of a BDNF genetic variant, which enhances our motivation to exercise.

Growing neurons

The BDNF gene encodes a protein called the brain-derived neurotrophic factor. This protein controls the function of nerve cells or neurons. Most of the neurons in our brain are made even before we are born. However, some parts of the adult brain can still grow new neurons through a process called neurogenesis.

BDNF not only promotes neurogenesis, but it also supports the survival of old neurons. Neuron growth and survival is absolutely necessary for cognitive functions like learning, thinking and memory. These are the same functions affected by schizophrenia, depression, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, all of which are linked to low BDNF levels.

Exercise and our brain

Now, if you are wondering what learning and Alzheimer’s disease has to do with exercise, the link is BDNF. Interestingly, certain types of exercise can enhance both neurogenesis and cognitive functions.

BDNF levels play a major role in this exercise-induced neurogenesis. Exercise boosts your BDNF levels and can beef up your brain. This is a blessing to those of us who carry a version of the BDNF gene known as rs6265.

The BDNF variant

The rs6265 version is associated with much lower BDNF protein levels. This should translate to decreased cognitive advantages and increased risk for neuropsychiatric disorders. But, Mother Nature, in the form of evolutionary adaptation, has provided us a backup plan through “motivation.”

People with the rs6265 version actually respond more positively to exercise and don’t find exercise as tiring. These people are internally driven to exercise more frequently. 

Furthermore, they are also more likely to continue exercising, even when offered with the choice to stop.

So, basically our brains have adapted to compensate for this inherited BDNF reduction by motivating us to be physically active. Hence, boosting BDNF production through exercise.

Are you a low BDNF producer?

The relationship between BDNF and exercise however, is a bit like a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you can just start exercising, you are actually genetically programmed to love it and to stay active.

Boosting BDNF levels through exercise can have tremendous positive effects on both your physical and mental wellbeing. The BDNF variant is included in the DNA Weight Loss TestNow the question is, whether knowing that you are a low BDNF producer would be enough to get you off the couch. 

Tests you may be interested in:


Latest News

Did you know the warrior gene is linked to aggression?

Taming the inner beast - MAOA, neurotransmitter breakdown and aggression

Did you know DNA determines your risk of lactose intolerance?

Growing up, milk and butter were staples. In college, you feasted on Kraft dinner and extra cheesy pizza. But now, eating plain old yogurt...

Did you know DNA influences your fat processing and lipid levels?

The untold story of diabetes - Lipids and the risk of type 2 diabetes

Did you know your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease is influenced by your DNA type?

Would you want to know your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and if you did, would it change your life?

Did you know genetic variants can accelerate your skin aging?

Blueberries for your skin: Antioxidants and the genes that protect your skin from getting old too fast

Did you know you can compare your DNA to Napoleon Bonaparte?

Do you descend from one of the greatest commanders in history?
- Advertisement -