The Cambridge Centre for Sport & Exercise Science at Anglia Ruskin University in England published a study in the journal PLOS ONE that found that genetic differences account for up to 72% of the difference between performance outcomes among individuals for specific exercises. Researchers focused on understanding how one’s genes can affect muscle strength, cardiovascular fitness, and anaerobic power, by analyzing 3,012 adults, between the ages of 18 to 55. All of the participants expressed improvements after their training program but to varying degrees. Researchers combined data from 24 different studies and discovered that genetic differences are responsible for the variation of outcomes and results of a particular exercise that was designed to improve muscle strength. They also found that genetic variation played a significant role in 44% of the outcomes of cardiovascular fitness exercises, measured through VO2 max testing, maximal oxygen consumption testing. 10% of the differences in outcomes for anaerobic exercises, which focus on movement and agility, are due to genetic variations. The remaining variations are due to other factors like nutrition and injuries. Researchers believe that alleles are what cause the body to react to exercise and they have identified 13 genes and associated alleles that can be held responsible for the body’s reaction to muscle strength, cardiovascular fitness, and anaerobic power exercise.
In response to the findings, researchers propose that gene testing could be done to personalize exercise programs in an effort to create the most beneficial and rewarding plan. Rather than assigning generic exercise for all, a more tailored exercise plan could be more effective for each individual depending on their needs as it could benefit diverse groups. This could even be more helpful to, for example, hospital patients who are in the process of rehabilitation and top athletes who depend on marginal and rapid improvements.
Given the validity of this study, exercise programs should be tailored to the individual's needs. This is especially important for rehabilitation centers where patients require more focused and quick results. In the era of social media with the rise of fitness influencers and pricey exercise programs, it is important that people are aware that those exercises that promise immediate and identical results are not necessarily true and that their results may differ. This study may not only improve the future of exercise rehabilitation in a professional setting but it could also help people’s mental health as it should be known that there will be differences in outcomes following identical exercises.