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May 13, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Mad Science – Let’s Get Physical

I exercised once, but found I was allergic to it. My skin flushed and my heart raced. I got sweaty and short of breath. Very dangerous. It’s safe to say that we all have different attitudes to the 30 minutes a day. For some, the 5 am jog to bond with the early worm is the epitome of happiness. For others, they would rather encounter Aaron Gilmore at his most powerful than put on some sneakers. Either way, science shows that there could well be a genetic component to it.

Oh rats! Don’t sweat that you’re lazy, suffering from a chronic illness where victims lack the willpower to do anything requiring effort—it’s not necessarily your fault. Studies of rats suggest that being a couch potato may actually have a genetic component. Researchers at the University of Missouri conducted an experiment where they put rats in cages with running wheels and measured how much each rat willingly ran on their wheels during a six-day period. They then bred the Usain Bolt wannabes with each other as well as breeding what schools would euphemistically call the ‘dedication and commitment’ prize-winning rats together. They repeated this process for ten generations. From the more than 17,000 different genes in one part of the brain, they identified 36 genes that may play a role in predisposition to physical activity motivation.

But for those of you who insist upon exercise (just for clarification to the fine gentlemen at the Kelburn gym: lifting one weight an hour as an excuse to look at the mirror doesn’t count as exercise), there can be a downside to your current routine. Once the entrée to all exercise routines, stretching has since been found to be harmful. University of Zagreb researchers have found those who used only static stretching to warm up experienced a 5.5 per cent decrease in strength in their muscles, with the impact increasing in people who hold individual stretches for 90 seconds or more. Furthermore, the same researchers determined that muscle power generally falls by
about two per cent after stretching. So at a stretch I would have to conclude don’t stretch.

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