Genes and Exercise, or Sedentary Death Syndrome

Sedentary death syndrome.

Lees SJ, Booth FW.

Dept. of Biomedical Sciences, Univ. of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO, USA.

Sedentary death syndrome (SeDS) is a major public health burden due to its causing multiple chronic diseases and millions of premature deaths each year. Despite the impact of physical inactivity, very little is known about the actual causes of physical inactivity-induced chronic diseases. It is important to study the mechanisms underlying molecular changes related to physical inactivity in order to better understand the scientific basis of individualized exercise prescription and therapies for chronic diseases, and to support improved public health efforts by providing molecular proof that physical inactivity is an actual cause of chronic diseases. Physical activity has a genetic basis. A subpopulation of genes, which have functioned to support physical activity for survival through most of humankind’s existence, require daily exercise to maintain long-term health and vitality. Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is an example of a SeDS condition, as it is almost entirely preventable with physical activity. To determine the true role of physical inactivity in the development and progression of T2D, information is presented which indicates that comparisons should be made to physically active controls, rather than sedentary controls, as this population is the healthiest. Use of sedentary subjects as the control group has led to potentially misleading interpretations. If physically active individuals were designated as the control group, a different interpretation would have been drawn. It is thought that there is no difference in GLUT4 concentration between T2D and sedentary groups. However, GLUT4 expression is higher in active controls than in sedentary and T2D groups. Therefore, to obtain causal mechanisms for SeDS in order to allow for scientifically based prevention and therapy strategies, physically active subjects must serve as the control group.

The bolded part that type 2 diabetes is “almost entirely preventable with physical activity” ought to be double bolded. People need to get off their backsides and get some exercise. It doesn’t take much; walking will suffice.

PS: And they need to quit eating so many refined carbs.

Fundamental questions about genes, inactivity, and chronic diseases.

Booth FW, Lees SJ.

Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65211, USA.

Currently our society is faced with the challenge of understanding the biological basis for the epidemics of obesity and many chronic diseases, including Type 2 diabetes. Physical inactivity increases the relative risk of coronary artery disease by 45%, stroke by 60%, hypertension by 30%, and osteoporosis by 59%. Moreover, physical inactivity is cited as an actual cause of chronic disease by the US Centers of Disease Control. Physical activity was obligatory for survival for the Homo genus for hundreds of thousands of years. This review will present evidence that suggests that metabolic pathways selected during the evolution of the human genome are inevitably linked to physical activity. Furthermore, as with many other environmental interactions, cycles of physical activity and inactivity interact with genes resulting in a functional outcome appropriate for the environment. However, as humans are less physically active, there is a maladaptive response that leads to metabolic dysfunction and many chronic diseases. How and why these interactions occur are fundamental questions in biology. Finally, a perspective to future research in physical inactivity-gene interaction is presented. This information is necessary to provide the molecular evidence required to further promote the primary prevention of chronic diseases through physical activity, identify those molecules that will allow early disease detection, and provide society with the molecular information needed to counter the current strategy of adding physical inactivity into our lives.


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