NZ Herald: Millions wasting their time trying to get fit, says study

Research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology suggests that the benefits of aerobic exercise are not universal, and that our genes may have a great deal to do with whether exercise benefits us or not.

The research looked at over 500 people undertaking aerobic exercise, and found that approximately 20% of these people showed no improvement in oxygen use (a measure of fitness)  or insulin sensitivity (which reduces the risk of diabetes).  They found that these differences could be traced back to differences in genetic makeup.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“About 20 per cent of the population do not get any significant aerobic fitness benefit from regular exercise, according to an international study led by scientists at the University of London.

“For these people, regular jogging and gym work will do little to ward off conditions like heart disease and diabetes which aerobic exercise is generally thought to resist.

“Researchers say they would be better off abandoning their exercise regime and focusing on other ways of staying healthy – such as improving their diet or taking medication.

“James Timmons of the Royal Veterinary College at the University of London, who led the study, said that the discovery would pave the way for more personalised treatments, with patients able to take DNA tests to find out the most effective way of keeping their own hearts healthy.

“It could also be used to root out would-be recruits to the Armed Forces who would never be able to reach the required fitness standards.”