How dangerous are genetics, and how are they linked to men’s obesity rate? Brittni Brown takes a look at the statistics.
Many of us are already aware that a serious obesity epidemic is taking place all across the United States. In 2015, the Journal of American Medicine estimated that nearly one in three American adults (about 78.6 million people) were obese. The concern is so great that many healthcare organizations are making education for a healthy lifestyle their number one prerogative. Even first lady Michelle Obama has put health education that the forefront of her projects while in the White House.
For many men, being overweight or obese is a serious concern. Close to 75 percent of men fall within one of these two weight categories. Keeping off the extra pounds can become an even greater challenge when providing for your family means sitting in an office chair for 40 hours every week.
Aside from not having the time to get regular exercise, additional factors can go into determining whether or not a man is more or less susceptible to becoming obese. One of these factors is somewhat out of his control: his genetics.
Genetics and Weight Health
Although the genes that you are given are out of your control, whether or not they are allowed to be fully realized can be determined by the type of lifestyle you live. In other words, even if you are more susceptible to becoming overweight or obese, it doesn’t mean you have to actually become overweight or obese. By reducing your intake of foods that have been shown to interact with obesity genes (such as deep fried cuisine) and regularly exercising, it is possible to control the extent to which the gene is displayed to some degree.
One study, from the Public Health department at the University of Arizona has linked a specific gene, FTO, to the amount of time spent sitting. Essentially, the gene has a greater effect on research participants that spent more time sitting throughout their day. However, the gene was also found to become far less of a factor when participants self-reported that they exercised on a regular basis and had a lower BMI in general. This research suggests even the genes most highly associated with obesity can have their impact limited.
The Right Workout for YOUR Health
Genes can also have a significant impact on the types of workouts and exercise routines that are likely to have a more positive impact on your body. A groundbreaking study completed in 2010 looked at genes in relation to how differing people responded to aerobic exercise. Results suggested that under the same exercise regime some people will see results right away, while others will experience hardly any change in fitness. These outcomes were linked to variations of certain genes.
Since this study was published, a number of different companies have begun offering health and fitness DNA tests. Ultimately, these are designed to use genetics to help individuals determine where on the continuum of exercise types their body will respond best. On one end is power-based workouts, which include weight lifting and sprints, while the other extreme is endurance-based workouts such as running, biking, and certain types of swimming.
Many people that have paid to have their DNA analyzed have found that the types of workouts that were suggested to them were typically exercises they had already naturally been drawn towards and that dietary suggestions made sense. However, it is important to remember that there are many things scientists still do not understand about the human genome, and the people analyzing your DNA typically do not know certain things about your personal health (such as previous injuries). Therefore, it is always prudent to take many of these suggestions with a grain of salt.
Staying Active in an Office Environment
Regardless of genetics, there are a number of steps that can be taken to help improve your health if you are working within an office environment. The first of which is allowing yourself to get out of your office chair and walk around every half hour. Sitting for long periods of time can have some nasty impacts on the body both in the short term and over time. These impacts include: muscle strain, decreased blood flow, less oxygen to the brain, and increased risk of certain cancers and other health conditions.
Parking farther away from the office building can also be a nice means of adding a few extra steps into your day. Taking the stairs is another option. Some research has found that men who climbed three to five flights of stairs every day had a 29 percent decrease in chance of having a stroke, regardless of whether or not they exercised daily. Finally, consider using your lunch break to go on a walk or, if workplace showers are available, a short run. This can help increase blood flow and give you that boost of energy you need to get through the rest of the day.
Research in human genetics continues to provide interesting insights into our health. For instance, the fact that some genes are linked to greater risk of obesity. Although a number of men certainly have these genes, it is not a reason to give up as many studies have found that exercise limit the extent to which genes are displayed. Using this information can be a substantial way in which to customize a workout to your body. However, there are still a number of ways to begin making small improvements to your health, even from the office.
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