Healthcare & Fiscal

Experts Reveal the Optimal Amount of Exercise for a Healthy Lifestyle


According to a new study of twins, exercise changes not just waistlines, but also the molecules in the human body that influence genes.

An identical twin pair with more physically active siblings showed lower signs of metabolic disease, measured by waist size and body mass index, in the Washington State University study published in Scientific Reports.

Furthermore, their epigenomes differed, which are molecular processes around DNA that influence gene expression but are independent of DNA sequence.

Epigenetic markers linked to metabolic syndrome, a condition that can cause heart disease, strokes, and type 2 diabetes, were found in the more active twins.

According to the study, markers of metabolic disease are strongly influenced by how a person interacts with their environment rather than just their inherited genes.

WSU biologist Michael Skinner, the study’s corresponding author, says the findings provide a molecular mechanism for the link between physical activity and metabolic disease.

In addition to reducing obesity susceptibility, exercise appears to influence a wide variety of cell types, including many involved in metabolic diseases, through epigenetics.”

With the help of the Washington State Twin Registry, the researchers collected cheek swabs from 70 pairs of identical twins who were also involved in an exercise study. The twins were examined from 2012 to 2019 by a team led by WSU Professor and Registry Director Glenn Duncan.

Fitness trackers were used to measure physical activity, waistlines and body ,mass indices, and survey questions were asked about lifestyles and neighborhoods.

On measures of physical activity, neighborhood walkability, and body mass index, many of the twin pairs were discordant.

Discordant twins’ cheek swabs were also examined by Skinner’s lab for epigenetic differences.

The twin in the discordant pair who exercised more than 150 minutes a week had epigenetic alterations in DNA methylation regions that correlated with a reduced body mass index and waist circumference.

Over fifty genes associated with vigorous physical activity and metabolic risk factors have been identified in those regions.

According to Skinner, epigenetics may explain why identical twins, who have the same genes, develop different diseases as they age.

According to Skinner, if genetics and DNA sequence were the only factors driving biology, twins should have the same diseases, but they don’t. “So that means environmental factors must be driving disease development,” he said.

Co-authors include Jennifer Thorson, Eric Nilsson and Daniel Beck from WSU’s School of Biological Sciences, as well as Ally Avery from WSU’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.

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I'm Shruti Mishra, Editorial Director @Newsblare Media, growing up in the bustling city of New Delhi, I was always fascinated by the power of words. This love for words and storytelling led me to pursue a career in journalism. In this position, I oversee the editorial team and plan out content strategies for our digital news platform. I am constantly seeking new ways to engage readers with thought-provoking and impactful stories.


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