There are dozens of TV shows focused on them and many of us are buying DNA ancestry kits online to discover our family histories.
However, it isn’t just tracing family heritage which you can really make the most of DNA testing, you can let results adapt your fitness plan and health too! Many of the most accurate DNA test kits on the market can give you valuable insights into your ancestry and heritage. Can our genes also lead us to adapt regimes to get the best fitness results?
First and foremost it’ll help you understand what sort of nutrition plan you need. Many DNA tests can test for certain genes, for example the LCT gene to uncover how the body digests lactose sugars.
The same applies to many other nutrients and energy sources we need, allowing you to understand what you naturally need more of, and where you perhaps need an intake of less.
This can then be developed into a diet plan to help your meals compliment your fitness plan.
It’s only natural that some types of exercise and sport we’re good at and some we aren’t. Much of that does come down to genetics.
Different genetic variants means we respond to different types of exercise in different ways. For example, if you have the GG variant of the PPARA gene, then you’ll be more efficient and respond better to endurance sports such as running and cycling. Whereas, those with the CC variant are more responsive to power training, for example lifting weights.
This can then be taken into your fitness plans. An athlete looking to build muscle will be more responsive to one method of training than another. If they carried the GG variant of the gene, then there would likely benefit more from doing lighter sets of weights over a longer period of time.
In comparison, someone with the CC variant, would benefit more from heavier weights with a smaller number of reps.
Injury prevention is perhaps one of the most important reasons to take a DNA test as it can have a significant impact on both how you train and how you perform.
Jenny Meadows, the British 800 metre runner is a prime example of this. She missed out on the 2012 London Olympics due to injury, and one that could potentially have been prevented had she been fed her genetic profile beforehand.
She took a test in 2014 and found that she was prone to tendon injuries, an injury that ruled her out in 2012. If she had lessened the impact in training on tendons, via cross training such as cycling and swimming, it is in injury, in theory, she may have been able to avoid.
This experience can be taken into account by any athlete, no matter how serious. It can help you avoid injury day-to-day, or more importantly ahead of big events, for example you may want to run a marathon. You can adapt your training plans to put less strain on specific muscles that may cause injury, and ensure you maximize your time available to train.