A recent study at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland found that some people’s bodies just don’t respond to either weight training or endurance exercise, according to a report published earlier this year in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
The researchers enrolled 175 sedentary adults in a 21-week program. Some lifted weights twice a week, while others jogged or walked. Some of the participants did both.The volunteers’ fitness and muscular strength were assessed before and after the program.
Enormous Disparity In Research Results
The results, reported in Sunday’s New York Times magazine, were extremely varied. In the combined strength-and-endurance program, for example, physiological improvement ranged from a negative 8 percent (these people actually got less fit) to a positive 42 percent. The same varied results held true for the volunteers who did only strength or only endurance training.
As the Finnish researchers summed up, “large individual differences” exist “in the responses to both endurance and strength training.”
So what does that mean to those of us who believe in the importance of working out? Why does one person’s body react so positively to exercise, while for another person the effect is minimal at best?
The Major Factor Is Genetics
According to Dr. Jamie Timmons, a professor of systems biology at the Royal Veterinary College in London, the main factor is genetics. “The rest may be diet,” Dr. Timmons wrote in an email, adding that it could also be a result of epigenetics, a complicated process in which the environment (including where you live and what you eat) affects how and when genes are activated.
So if we’re not seeing amazing results from our workouts after a few weeks, should we just give up? Absolutely not, says Dr. Timmons, explaining that maybe you need a different exercise regimen.
Keep On Exercising!
And he assures us that exercise does remain, “on average, one of the best ‘health’ treatments we have.”
With the mind/body connection being so important, I’m sure he is right. So keep exercising, even if it seems that you are not buffer by the day. And those researchers will keep trying to figure out who needs what exercise, based on genetic and other differences. And why some people just don’t seem get fitter, no matter what they do.