According to a study featured in Medical News Today, exercise may not only affect your waistline—it may also affect your DNA.

Researchers from Lund University in Sweden asked 23 slightly overweight but healthy men to attend three spinning or aerobics classes thrice a week for six months, during which their fat cells were monitored for cellular changes.

The scientists were particularly interested in methyl groups—molecules that affect the activation and deactivation of certain genes.

The results showed that exercise caused 7,000 positive changes in the participants’ DNA. Researchers also noted changes in genes that were linked to type 2 diabetes and obesity. Although genetic traits are inherited and generally cannot be changed, methyl groups within genes may be influenced by outside factors such as diet and exercise.

More research needs to be done as to how and why exercise affects methyl groups, but this comes as good news, especially to those who are discouraged by the seemingly minute effects of exercise. Changes do happen, whether or not they are immediately seen. The important thing is to remain patient and just keep on living a healthy lifestyle.

(Photo by LotusHead via sxc.hu)

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