Working Out Is Good For You – Or Is It?

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.


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LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

Nancy B.
Nancy B.4 years ago

The very large number of people who suffer from ME will be badly harmed by exercise, except the usually small amount well within their limited capabilities. In ME, except during periods of remission, the population of red blood cells contain a large percentage of irregularly shaped, non-deformable cells which cannot traverse the capillaries, leaving muscle tissue and parts of the brain and endocrine system lacking oxygen. Muscle tissues forced to exercise in the absence of oxygen and without removal of waste products will be damaged by exercise. People with ME forced to exercise get much worse and can be permanently disabled.

jane richmond
jane richmond4 years ago

Ana P said it best

kryzstyna P.
kryzstyna P.5 years ago

It bugs me to on one day hear "working out" is imperative and the next"working out could be negative".

I truly think balance and moderation are key!

The study of genetics and how we are predisposed is also dependant upon: the activity we participate in,what we eat and where we live impacting what genes are possibly activated and which are not is fabulous info.Thanx

Thomas N.
Thomas N.5 years ago

We have to remember that a lot of people get really out of shape as well from not having the discipline to make themselves exercise from time to time each week.

Chris A.
Chris A.5 years ago

Loree G makes an excellent point. Yoga is subject centred, and there is no philosophy of "no pain, no gain". This is a system where competing has no place.

Working out is fine up to a point. Many people who jog fanatically are doing their spine no favours because they are subjecting it to repetitive strain. I think the main thing is to do what you enjoy doing, rather than regarding it is unpleasant but necessary. If you love swimming, but find spending ages on the treadmill is not your thing, then go for the swimming which is an excellent promoter of health.

Lorree G.

did I miss seeing the word YOGA anywhere here.... perfect for personalizing a workout that gives you whatever you need most, be it relaxation or "power" yoga, which can change from day to day or year to year...... check it out.... many styles are offered at many locations (from gyms to church basements to spas) and there are books, videos, wii, flashcards, magazines and the internet to learn from

Chris C.
Chris C.5 years ago

As mentioned before, "Everything in Moderation". That includes matching intake with output. How much is your intake in relation to your output. Include also timing. A complete, healthy breakfast before a busy day and light supper when anticipating rest.

Cristina l.
Cristina l.5 years ago

Interressante essa pesquisa,mas tendo se levado em conta a genética acredito que cada exercício deve ser personalizado.