Using DNA Analysis To Discover Your Fitness Genetics

Understand your body's response to exercise and optimize your workouts based on your genetic makeup.

Think back to that kid in your middle school P.E. class who always seemed to tackle the class period with ease and minimal effort. While a disciplined and consistent approach to fitness definitely can reap powerful results, some people just seem to be naturally gifted when it comes to athleticism – like that kid who seemed to defy the very laws of physics. DNA has a pretty significant say in how we turn out mentally and emotionally, and many scientific experts believe that our genetics also dictate the strength of our physical makeup. It doesn’t seem fair, but gene strength may be largely predisposed, and if that’s the case, it’s important to know where your fitness genetics fall on the scale.

What are fitness genetics?

You’ve definitely heard the term “strong genes” before, and while it’s often used facetiously, many scientists believe there’s some truth to it: that some people are just naturally more fit to survive and reproduce than others. This can describe literal physical fitness (think: that kind in P.E. class who was particularly skilled), but fitness genetics also means how good a particular genotype is at being passed to offspring. For example: if a child seems to share more genetics with Parent One than they do with Parent Two, it might be assumed that Parent One has “fitter,” stronger genetics. Or, if a group of brown beetles tends to reproduce quicker at a higher rate than a group of green beetles, the brown beetles’ genetics are considered to be more fit. Fitness genetics also describes how easily a species adapts to its environment, as the more adaptable species tends to have a longer life rate. For example: animals that are able to easily camouflage into their surroundings will be much less susceptible to predators, and more likely to live longer and reproduce more. Of course, there’s quite a few issues with fitness genetics theories – the big one being that examining species through a lens that focuses on reproductivity as a main power point leads us a little too easily down an uncompassionate, people-as-numbers path. Thankfully, fitness genetics is more often utilized to examine other species – probably to avoid past controversial dalliances with the concept of eugenics. Instead for humans, “fitness genetics” will most often describe the ease of a person’s ability to gain muscle and speed.

How can I figure out my fitness DNA analysis?

DNA testing is increasingly popular for people to look into as a way to explore family heritage – and to gain more insight into why we are the way we are. One type of DNA test people can hone in on is a fitness DNA analysis: a fitness gene testing process that allows you to explore your body type and how it can best increase muscle, agility, flexibility, and longevity. Much like diet culture, the fitness industry is ripe with one-size-fits-all theories for exercise best practices, but with so many different body types and lived experiences among us, how can we expect to all benefit from one approach? Because of this, more people are looking into fitness gene testing as a way to figure out how they should be taking care of themselves. There are quite a few reasons that a fitness DNA analysis could be a great idea for you:

  • Relying on DNA for fitness can help squash toxic fitness and diet culture.

A fitness DNA analysis will tell you things like how quickly you can recover from an intense workout, what your metabolism is like, how naturally strong your muscles and joints are, and how efficiently your body processes oxygen. All of these details can help you tailor a fitness plan very closely to your body’s needs, so that rather than simply following the latest exercise trend and hoping for the best, you can really understand what works best for you. This sounds like a simple concept, but it has the potential to have a profoundly positive effect on the overarching diet and fitness culture. For too long, we’ve accepted the revolving door of diet and exercise trends as perennial fact, and people are likely to just do what everyone else is doing without really questioning what sort of effect it has on their body. What works for someone might be detrimental for the next person – depending on their muscles, how active they are in their daily routine, and their predisposition to certain conditions or injuries. This universal approach to wellness is also rampant in the diet culture, and people are prone to crash dieting and disordered eating that can be incredibly harmful to their health. Having a more tailored plan for your wellness can be life-saving, or at the very least can help someone recover from an eating disorder or exercise addiction.

  • Utilizing fitness gene testing might save you from bodily injuries or overexertions.

Another reason to try out fitness gene testing: it can help you avoid injuries down the line. Athletic culture can be harmful in the sense that athletes are often pushed to the absolute max of their physical abilities. And because of that, they tend to be much more prone to severe injuries that drastically alter their quality of life. This hardcore attitude trickles down into the public, and people who tend to be more into fitness also tend to be harder on themselves – and less understanding of the body’s need to rest and recover. If your DNA reveals that you’re particularly predisposed to knee injuries, you might be more likely to avoid physical activities that force you to exert a lot of energy from your knees. Or, you might steer into more knee-strengthening exercises to actively work against those odds. Whatever you decide to do with the results, a fitness DNA test analysis can really help you understand your body and how to approach its health and maintenance. 

  • A fitness DNA analysis can help you figure out what sport you want to focus on.

Maybe you’re into a wide variety of sports and you know that’s something you want to do with your life, but you’re not sure which one to prioritize. A lifetime of physical exercise can be either healthy or too strenuous, depending on how hard you go and how often you’re exerting yourself. And if you want to find out where your destiny lies from this perspective, fitness gene testing might be something you want to consult. You might have the genetics of a basketball player, but you were incredibly close to pursuing football or rugby – sports that would severely damage your body’s muscles and joints over time. Having that context can help you make some life-changing, possibly life-saving decisions. 

Fitness body types

Maybe you don’t want to take a fitness DNA analysis quite yet, but you’re still interested in exploring the concept. In the meantime, you can look into your body type: a predetermined model that can help you understand how lean you are, or how easy it is for your body to store fat. No one knows you better than you know yourself, and if you know your body, you probably have a good enough understanding of it to self-assess which category you fall under. From there, you can look into diet and exercise tips for that specific body type and apply them to yourself. If you notice a drastically positive difference, it might be worth it to fully look into fitness genes analysis.

  • Ectomorph

An ectomorph body is lean, slender, and tends to have less muscle and body fat (think: fashion models, ballerinas, etc.). This person might find it challenging to gain weight, whether it be fat or muscle, and have to try really hard in order to do so. 

  • Endomorph

An endomorph body is better at storing both fat and muscle, and tends to gain weight quite easily. Good examples of this body type are Marilyn Monroe or NFL legend Forrest Gregg.

  • Mesomorph

A mesomorph body is naturally athletic and strong, and tends to stay in shape and gain muscle very easily. 

  • Combination body type

A combination body type is…well, a combination. Of one, two, or all three of the above. Also keep in mind that your body type can change throughout your lifetime, depending on circumstance, life experiences, and more. Fitness genetics isn’t a surefire approach to diet and exercise, as a person’s environment and upbringing can still have an impactful effect on development that might contradict what your genes are predicting. However, looking into a fitness DNA analysis is a fun and interesting way to learn more about yourself and maybe discover some new things about how you should  be working out – just make sure to take everything with a grain of salt and a big-picture attitude.

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