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Did you know that exercise can bring positive changes to your DNA?

Updated on August 1, 2013

We all know that regular exercise is very essential for our body, but how many of us are self motivated to exercise regularly. Many of us search for excuses to avoid exercises. The results of this are very prominent before us in the form of alarming increase in the rate of diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular problems, obesity, etc. We are all well aware of various health benefits of exercises like

  • increased rate of metabolism – so that excess of fats and calories are burnt
  • increase in the body temperature – which stimulates various parts of the body like muscles, circulatory system, glands and nerves
  • positive hormonal changes – leading to the lowering of cholesterol levels, stimulation of the muscles to perform better, better digestion, reduced stress, better performance of the immune system
  • and many more….

We all know that DNA is inherited from our parents, but isn’t it surprising to know that exercises can change the interpretation of the genetic code towards the positive side. The aim of this article is to provide the information of how external factors like exercises can bring positive changes in DNA. Now, we have another reason to get motivated to start and continue regular exercise.

A video describing how DNA methylation and transcription are linked

How is the DNA affected by exercises?

Exercise Affects The Epigenetic Pattern:

Epigenetic mechanisms (mechanisms which involve changes other than the changes in the basic sequence of DNA) play a significant role in the transmission of the phenotype (observable characters) across the generations and development of various diseases. Epigenetic mechanisms like DNA methylation which takes place on the (CpGs) and histone modifications are involved in the regulation of gene transcription. A recent study conducted by Charlotte Ling, at Lund University in Sweden, showed that exercises were able to produce a change in the epigenetic pattern responsible for the fat storage in the adipose cells. Biopsies of the thigh muscle tissue drawn from 14 healthy people, before and after 20 minutes of exercise were conducted. Demethylation of the genes specifically involved in the energy metabolism was noticed after the short span of exercise. As a result, these genes were available for the transcription and were upregulated. However, this change was transient and the methylation pattern was restored after some time (48 hours after a three-week exercise program). Further, it was discovered that a 35 minutes of exercise promoted the synthesis of proteins involved in the metabolism of fats and sugars. An alternation in the methylation of the genes or loci previously associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D), further strengthens this study and proves that exercise can definitely be a solution to diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Effect of Exercises on Telomeres:

Telomeres are short stretches of DNA present at the terminus of the chromatid and act as caps to the chromosomes. These telomere sequences give stability to DNA and get shortened with age. An increased activity of the telomerase enzyme was noticed in athletes who exercised regularly. This temomerase stabilizes the telomeres and reduced the shortening of the telomeres, especially in leukocytes. This prevents ageing. So exercises retard ageing – Isn’t that great!

Exercises enhance the DNA repair capacity:

Moderate exercises prevent DNA damage. A higher intense physical activity for a prolonged duration was found to be associated with DNA repair. Hence, we can prevent ourselves from dangerous diseases like cancer by exercising regularly.


Modern man’s sedentary lifestyle habits leave no scope for physical activity in day-to-day life. Gone are the days when we had to walk miles to reach the destination. Various technological devices make our job easy and quicker. Hence, it becomes very essential to allot some time in our days schedule for exercises so that we stay fit and healthy in a long run.

My source of information

Tina Ronn, Charlotte Ling, et al. (2013). A Six Months Exercise Intervention Influences the Genome-wide DNA Methylation Pattern in Human Adipose Tissue. PLoS Genetics, 2013; 9 (6).


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    • purnasrinivas profile image

      purnasrinivas 4 years ago from Bangalore

      Thank you DDE for the comments

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      A useful hub and interesting idea

    • purnasrinivas profile image

      purnasrinivas 4 years ago from Bangalore

      Thank you for the comments Dr Pran and jericho911.

    • jericho911 profile image

      Kenneth Claude 4 years ago from Parts Unknown

      I had no idea ! Great job

    • Dr Pran Rangan profile image

      Dr Pran Rangan 4 years ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Really a good hub.