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Some People Are Genetically Predisposed to Hate Exercise. Here’s Why You Should Do It Anyway

If you’ve always wondered why your roommate is able to hit the gym every day while all you’re hitting is the couch, some recent science might have the answer.

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Modern genetic analysis has linked certain strings of DNA with a natural preference for exercise. Some people have this DNA. Some don’t.

So, we’ve got good news and bad news. The good news: If you have a hard time getting to the gym, it’s probably not because you’re lazy. It may just be that your genes make you less likely enjoy exercise.

The bad news: If you care about your brain, you should probably exercise anyway.

Regular exercise could boost cognition and memory. Image by Getty

That’s not just a good guess; it’s a recommendation that’s now backed by science, explains the The Washington Post.

Until recently, scientists weren’t positive that regular exercise was beneficial for brain health.  Then a group of Canadian researchers released a sweeping new study disproving the doubters once and for all. According to the study, which was published earlier this month, regular physical activity can indeed improve your thinking speed and memory. (It may also be able to prevent you from dying young.)

So, why weren’t we sure about the link between exercise and brain health before? The issue with past studies is that many of them have been too small to produce significant results. Others have been contradictory. While some experiments show that frequent exercisers perform better on memory and intelligence tests, others have shown no difference between exercisers and non-exercisers.

The problem with cognition studies is that there are so many variables affecting our physiology—including our genetics. If frequent exercisers have different DNA than non-exercisers, who’s to say it’s not the DNA making them smarter rather than the exercise itself?

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That’s where the Canadian study comes in. In it, the researchers analyzed nearly 350,000 people. They considered the subjects’ genetic makeup as well as their actual exercise habits. Even when the researchers controlled for that genetic predisposition we talked about earlier, they found that subjects who exercised regularly had quicker minds. Other studies have shown that regular exercise—even just two minutes per day—can help you live longer.

So, it doesn’t matter whether or not you like to work out naturally. If you make yourself do it, you can reap the benefits.

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