‘Couch potato’ may be an inherited trait
It could be that there’s actually an genetic reason that you’re capable of spending an entire Saturday afternoon on the couch. A study published in the American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology identified a set of genetic traits that might predispose people to be more or less motivated to work out regularly.
The researchers put rats in cages with a running wheel and measured how often during a six-day trial each rat ran on the wheel without being prompted. Then, they bred the 26 rats that ran the most often with each other, and the 26 rats that ran the least with each other. They repeated this process through 10 generations of rats and found that the line of ‘runner rats’ chose to run 10 times more often than the line of rats that were more sedentary.
Then, the researchers studied the genetic makeup and body composition of the last generation of each line of rats--the ‘super runners’ and the ‘couch potatoes’. What they found was that there were only minor differences in the body composition of the ‘super runners’ and the ‘couch potatoes’, but there were distinct genetic differences between the two lines. Specifically, the researchers found 36 genes that seemed to play a role in predicting motivation for physical activity.
Researchers now hope to study each gene individually to determine its particular effect on motivation to exercise.