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Hate sport? Maybe it’s because you have the genes that make exercise feel awful

18 August 2017

Have you seen those people who come out of an exercise class with a spring in their step and self-satisfied smile on their face? They really pushed themselves this time and now they’re riding that endorphin high. To them, the ache and burn feels good. But it’s not so for everyone.

Others find exercise unpleasant and unrewarding – the aches just, well, ache. Psychologists call this difference the “affective response to exercise” and in a paper in Psychology of Sport and Exercise researchers in the Netherlands report new evidence that it is to a significant degree genetically inherited.

Nienke Schutte at VU University Amsterdam and his colleagues recruited 115 pairs of identical twins who share the same genes, 111 pairs of non-identical siblings who share roughly half their genes, 35 of their non-twin siblings, and another 6 non-twin sibling pairs (aged 12 to 25).

The participants completed a 20 minute non-vigorous ride on an exercise bike and a non-vigorous 20 minute treadmill run. Their breathing was monitored to ensure the exercise didn’t become vigorous. There were also warm up and warm down periods and there was a second brief exercise ride to exhaustion.

Read more on our Research Digest blog.

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