Don’t put the blame on “fat genes:” Jogging and other forms of exercise can keep obesity at bay
05/19/2020 // Zoey Sky // Views

Staying healthy requires discipline. You need to follow a balanced diet, quit bad habits like smoking and drinking and exercise regularly.

But for those who don't like going to the gym, there are plenty of excuses to choose from, from being too busy with work to having genes that naturally make them fat. But according to a study, people with "fat genes" can effectively manage their weight even with something as simple as jogging.

Data from multiple studies suggest that over 400 genes are linked to being overweight. These genes affect a person's appetite, metabolism and the way the body stores fat.

In addition, a recent study published in the journal PLOS Genetics, researchers reported that certain types of physical activities -- which some may find enjoyable or engaging -- can help people who are naturally overweight slim down and fight obesity.

5 Secrets to a healthy weight

For the study, Taiwanese researchers examined how exercise affected the health of 18,424 Han Chinese participants. The volunteers were aged 30 to 70 years.

The scientists measured the volunteers' body mass indices (BMI), body fat percentage and waist-to-hip ratio and took note of how much exercise they did. They also studied the genes of the participants to determine if they were genetically predisposed to obesity.

Dr. Wan-Yu Lin, the study's lead author, said that, based on their findings, jogging regularly is the best way to minimize the effects of certain genes on BMI, body fat percentage and hip circumference. This is particularly true for people who have a high likelihood of becoming obese.


Apart from jogging, the researchers found that activities such as international standard dancing, mountain climbing, power walking and long yoga sessions can also help counteract the effects of genetics on BMI. (Related: Walk, cycle, or jog: Prevent the negative side effects of sitting all day by squeezing some exercise into your daily routine.)

Regular exercise will help you stay slim, but not all kinds of activities are effective

Aside from measuring BMI, body fat and hip size, the researchers also took note of each participant's hip-to-waist ratio and genetic risk score (GRS), which dictate the role DNA plays in obesity risk.

Additionally, the researchers analyzed the effects of 18 different types of exercise on the volunteers' weights. Lin shared that out of the 18 exercises self-reported by the volunteers, six minimized the genetic effects on at least one obesity measure.

Across all five obesity measures, regular jogging consistently presented the most significant interactions with the participants' genetic risk scores.

Surprisingly, activities like cycling, swimming, playing the video game Dance Dance Revolution, qi gong -- a martial art similar to tai chi -- and stretching didn't have the same effect on obesity risk.

According to Lin, this may be because cycling and the other exercises require less energy expenditure than jogging or any of the other more effective activities.

Lin also explained that exercises done in cold water, like swimming, may have unwanted effects, such as stimulating your appetite and increasing your food intake. On the other hand, Dance Dance Revolution, an interactive video game where players must dance to music videos, isn't as formal as international standard dancing.

Lin concluded that these may explain why, out of the 18 self-reported activities, the above-mentioned popular activities weren't as effective as jogging at mitigating genetic susceptibility to obesity measures.

How can exercise prevent obesity?

Scientists say that regularly engaging in physical activities can prevent obesity because of the following:

  • Exercise increases your total energy expenditure, which can help you stay in energy balance or lose weight. Just make sure you don't eat more to compensate for the extra calories that you burn when working out.
  • Regular exercise helps reduce the fat around your waist as well as total body fat. This helps slow the development of abdominal obesity.
  • Activities like push-ups, weight lifting and other muscle-strengthening activities help build muscle mass. These exercises also help increase the amount of energy your body burns in a day, even when you're at rest, and this makes it easier to manage weight.

Don't be complacent about your health if you have "fat genes." Improve your well-being by eating nutritious foods and jogging regularly to manage and maintain a healthy weight.

Sources include:

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