Exercise Can Change the Expression of your Genes
According to a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism, exercise not only helps you burn calories, but also alter the expression of your DNA. The researchers worked with a group of 14 young men and women who were relatively sedentary, and asked them to work out on an exercise bike that measured their maximum activity levels. In a painless biopsy procedure performed under anesthesia the researchers took a little bit of muscle from their quadriceps before and after a 20 minute exercise session.
they found that more genes were turned on in the cells taken after the exercise and showed less methylation, a molecular process in which the chemicals called methyl groups settle on the DNA and limit the cell’s ability to switch on certain genes. The body regulated the activation of genes in the DNA by regulating the methylation of cells at specific times.
In the muscle cells, the methylation process helps control the release of enzymes and nutrients the muscles needs to get the energy and to burn calories during physical activity. The researchers also tried to see if the intensity of exercise made a difference in the methylation process, and they found out that the muscle biopsies taken from participants with higher intensity workout had a lower concentration of methyl groups and therefore more RNA, than sample taken from participants that did a lower intensity workout.
“Exercise is already known to induce changes in muscle, including increased metabolism of sugar and fat”, says Juleen Zierath, a professor of physiology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, “Our discovery is that the methylation change comes first.”