Thursday, March 17, 2011

Is Fitness All in the Genes?

A response to an article in the NY Times Well section, Is Fitness All in the Genes?:

As for fitness being some desirable goal, it is better to be active. Many people do not have the capacity to find fitness enjoyable, and the goal for everyone should be activity that he or she can enjoy and continue with, be it strength training, martial arts, volleyball, or any number of non-aerobic activities.

Also, this is news? I was an ACE-certified personal trainer in the early 90's, been working out for 25 years, and I have read a great deal of popular and academic material. A memorable quote from a sports medicine journal regarding fitness was that "seventy percent (70%) of aerobic capacity is how well one chose one's parents."

I regularly row on ergometers - I have not been on the water for 20 years - and someone recently told me they wanted to be as fit as me. Who knew? Yes, I measure over the 95th percentile on treadmill tests, but I tend to think that people see me as a bit of an oddball, more than admirable. Rowing itself, like most aerobic sports, is predictable by numerous physical traits, almost all of which are fixed and largely genetic. People need to understand that, since it will impact their feelings of success and exercise adherence.

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