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Do you have the lazy gene?

New research suggests that couch potatoes are born, not made.

By Sally Wadyka Apr 9, 2013 9:20PM

My dad was always incredibly active and, consequently, very physically fit. He dabbled in yoga, got hooked on weight lifting and was a runner as far back as I can remember. In high school, if I stayed out until the wee hours of the morning, I was always afraid I’d run into my dad as he set out for his pre-dawn jog.

I bring up my father’s fitness habits because apparently, I have him to thank for mine. New research indicates that our genetics may play a role in whether or not we are inclined to be active. For this study, the researchers studied rats to see which ones willingly ran the most during a six-day period. Then they purposely bred the runners with other runners and the laziest ones with their equally slothful peers in order to create a line of “super runner” rats and a line of “ couch potato” rats.  They studied ten generations of these rodents and found that the runners consistently, and voluntarily, ran ten times more than the lazy line of rats.

What’s the difference between the two groups that explain the wide variation in activity levels? Genes. According to study author Frank Booth, a professor in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Missouri:

“While we found minor differences in the body composition and levels of mitochondria in the muscle cells of the rats, the most important thing we identified were the genetic differences between the two lines or rats.”

In fact, they found 36 specific genes that seemed to play a role in the rats’ motivation to work out. The future implications for this are huge, and the researchers plan more studies to figure out exactly how each of the 36 genes they’ve identified affects physical activity. Who knows, someday, designer babies may be able to come pre-programmed to love exercise -- and reap all of the mental and physical health benefits that come along with it. At the very least, those unlucky enough to be born with the lazy gene could benefit from early interventions to help prevent obesity and encourage physical activity.

It seems I was fortunate enough to inherit the active gene. So thanks, Dad! I’ll be thinking of you as I head out for a run.

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Apr 9, 2013 11:00PM

Well, I am not a rat. I am a 78 year old human. I smoke, drink some, not a doctor could explain why I had no problem with anything you talk about. Except rats. Living healthy is fasting . Do not eat to much, Do not drink to much, Do not smoke to much and you might be able to beat my age of 78. No plan to go out in the next 10 years. Do not take any medicine if not absolutely needed. Do not take much for breakfast, no lunch and a sober dinner. What ever you like. Concentrate on the Birds, your pets, your garden(even a balcony) Most of all when you go to bed. Forget everything. "you did the best you could do" so sleep, wake up and continue. I am not a rat. I am a human and I can live with that, even if I sleep on the street. Nobody is taken this away from me.

Love you all 

Apr 10, 2013 12:18AM

Where the hell did anything in the article say anything about "work?" Jeesh! What a bunch of stupid, petty, paranoid whiners! I tell you what, I am 57 years old and normally do not work out. I hate working out and come from a long line of people who didn't exercise regularly. However, myself and many in my family have worked hard all of our lives! Very hard! I don’t miss work, I work two jobs, I start early and finish late, I do everything I am supposed to do and more, a lot more.

So because I don’t run too in order to say fit I am a loser and YOU have to take care of me somehow??? 

 How about this, get a life and stop worrying so damn much that your tax dollars or whatever is going to go toward helping someone else someday. Maybe someone who doesn’t deserve it. YOU will never know what the real issues are for some of these people. I know someone who didn’t work for a year and went on disability in order to go into intensive therapy for a year because she was troubled in all areas of her life due to the fact that she was molested and raped (attempted rape and date rape)  between the ages of 3 (maybe earlier) and 18 by 13 different slime balls.  She realized that just getting over it was not working for her despite years of trying to just live her life and forget her horrible childhood. Inside she felt like a freak that this had happened to her so many times by so many men. 


Think she didn’t deserve that time on disability? Not many knew WHY she was off work for a year. And some thought she was just lazy. But in reality she was very, VERY busy fighting for her mental health and her life. She went back to work and went from being a very good employee to being a fantastic employee! I know because she worked for me! So yeah, maybe some people work the system and I know they shouldn’t. But YOU don’t know a damn thing about them or their needs, so why do all of you have to just keep running your mouths about it? Jeesh! Get over yourselves! You are worse than the very poor people, living on the edge of poverty, who vote republican because they support the guns and the bigoted side of the political spectrum. So they vote against  themselves because of their own ignorance.  

And guess what? IF you ever need a hand out… it could happen to ANYONE!!! It will be there for YOU too! Think you are above that? Think again!  It COULD happen to anyone!  

Apr 9, 2013 10:32PM
Stop blaming other factors and start telling people to take personal responsibility!!!!
Apr 9, 2013 10:40PM
Hooray !!!  Another excuse for some people to use the "it's not fair" and "it's not my fault" excuse that they are unable to work.  How long before SCOTUS says this falls under the ADA of 1990 and that that certain peole shouldn't be expected to work and that they should be able to collect disabilty for the remainder of their (useless) lives ?
Apr 9, 2013 10:27PM
when nature vs nurture
nature always wins
Apr 9, 2013 11:19PM
I am incredibly lazy.  Always on the couch with a clicker in my hand.  I am the only fatty in my family of thin, healthy, and physically fit siblings and Parents.  My Dad is 73 and could run faster and farther than me any day of the week.  I do not see the genetic link here?
Apr 9, 2013 11:26PM

Steve I have to disagree with you. Nobodies live is useless

Love Bingo

Apr 10, 2013 1:25AM
My grandfather lived to be 98 years old, he drank, smoked cigars, and his favorite food was ice cream. 
I am not saying that his was a diet for long life, but what I am saying is that he lived a long life.
There has been very little scientific evidence supporting the claims made by the proponents of most of these "fad" diets being foisted on our people.
We have only one life to live and if that means that we indulge in things which make us feel good, is there really any harm?
Does living longer make us better?
Or merely older?
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