Updated: Dec 16, 2022
Physical fitness and Sports Performance is a complex process that can be divided into various baseline components such as Endurance capacity, Strength and Power or Coordination. A favorable genetic profile, right nutrition and supplements and optimal training environment is important for Elite Athletic Fitness and Performance. Physical fitnesss is a multi-dimensional state of being. It is the body’s ability to function efficiently and effectively and is governed by 7 fitness and performance related health factors influenced by a person's genomic profile. These factors are -
Bone and Ligament strength
Research has indicated that achieving an optimum level of fitness and performance may be mediated to a large extent by variation in genes impacting the health related fitness and performance parameters.
This blog provides insight into the various traits that are influenced by your genetic make-up and the genes associated with these traits.
Your genotype decides if you are suitable for endurance activities or not. A high endurance capacity indicates that an individual can take up mild to moderate intensity activities for a prolonged duration with minimal discomforts like breathlessness and fatigue. Endurance performance is dictated by factors such as the aerobic capacity, fat oxidation, aerobic metabolism, lactate threshold, exercise economy, and percentage of slow twitch muscle fibers.
Genes involved - EPAS1, COL6A1, GNB3, AGTR2
Aerobic Capacity Trainability
Your genotype determines your Aerobic Capacity Trainability. Also known as VO2Max, is defined as the maximum capacity of our body to transport and use oxygen during exercise. During aerobic exercises, oxygen is used to break down the fuel stores for energy production and its demand increases with increase in the intensity of exercise. Appropriate training leads to an improvement in the aerobic capacity which directly translates to improved performance. However, the extent and the ease at which these improvements are made is governed by genetics.
Genes involved - GSTP1, GABPB1, VEGFA, PPARD
Your genotype decides your Lactate Threshold level. Lactate threshold is defined as the intensity of exercise at which the concentration of lactate begins to exponentially increase, thereby setting in fatigue. Intensity of exercise below the lactate threshold can be done without any apparent feeling of uneasiness and fatigue.
Genes involved – PPARD, PPARGC1A
Your genotype decides your ability for Power generation. Generally, a greater power output directly translates into improved performance. Genetics play a big role in the power generation capabilities of an individual, and hence dictate whether an individual is suited for power activities or not.
Genes involved – MSTN, ACTN3, IL6, ACE
Your genotype decides your propensity level for Concussion. Concussion is a temporary unconsciousness or confusion caused by a blow to the head or by violent shaking of the head and body. It temporarily affects brain functioning and may lead to temporary cognitive problems. Genetics play a role with respect to an individual's risk of getting concussed and the vulnerability period after a concussion.
Genes involved – APOE, COMT
Your genotype decides your propensity level for developing Tennis Elbow. Tennis Elbow, also known as lateral elbow tendinopathy, is a condition in which the outer part of the elbow becomes painful and tender. Genetics plays an important role with respect deciding if the tendons in the outer part of your elbow are predisposed to withstand large physical trauma or not.
Gene involved - COL5A1
Your genotype decides your propensity level for Muscle Injury. Exercise puts stress on the muscles, which leads to damage. Low level damage is essential for the muscles to grow and adapt to the exercise stimuli. However, if a muscle gets excessively damaged, it can lead to muscle strains. An individual’s genetic profile can dictate their propensity for muscle injuries.
Genes involved - ESR1, ACTN3, COL5A1
Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury
Your genotype decides your propensity level for Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury. There are four main ligaments which connect the thigh bone to the shin bone at the knee joint, the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of them. The ACL serves several functions, making it extremely essential for providing stability to the knee joint and aiding in its function.
Genes involved - COL3A1, COL12A1, COL1A1, VEGFA, COL5A1
Your genotype decides your propensity level for Achilles Tendinopathy. The achilles tendon attaches muscles at the back of the lower leg to the heel bone. It is the thickest tendon in the human body. Achilles tendinopathy is an overuse injury that is common, especially to people performing running and jumping activities, due to the repetitive action at the achilles tendon.
Genes involved - BMP4, CASP8, MMP3, COL5A1
Rotator Cuff Injury
Your genotype decides your propensity for Rotator Cuff Injury. The rotator cuff is a group of four tendons that stabilize the shoulder joint. It functions in keeping the head of the upper arm bone firmly within the socket of the joint. Rotator cuff injury is the damage to the rotator cuff from a traumatic event or from repetitive shoulder joint movements as observed in many sports/exercises. Genetics decides if tendons in the rotator cuff can withstand greater physical trauma.
Genes involved - BMP4
Resistance Training And Muscle Building
Your genotype decides your response level to Resistance Training and Muscle Building. Skeletal muscles, being capable of generating force, are responsible for the movement of the body. Muscles are the primary engine room for fat burning and glucose uptake. Bigger muscles require more energy and in turn burn more calories, leading to fat loss and aiding in weight management. Muscles also help in preventing diabetes as they increase insulin sensitivity and hence protect against insulin resistance. An individual’s genetic profile can indicate how easily and to what extent a person can increase their muscle mass with training.
Genes involved - BMP2, MSTN, LEPR, ACTN3
Muscle Damage And Recovery
Your genotype decides your propensity level for Muscle Damage and Recovery. Putting excessive stress on a sore muscle can lead to an injury. Therefore, it is imperative to understand an individual’s propensity for muscle damage after a workout and the rate of recovery from that damage, which would dictate the intensity of workouts and the ideal amount of rest that should be taken between two workouts. Interplay of many genes and the variations in them dictate the muscle damage and recovery response.
Genes involved - IL6R, COL1A1, SLC30A8, MLCK
Blood Pressure Response to Exercise
Your genotype decides your propensity level for blood pressure response to exercise. Long term exercise has been known to have a positive effect on blood pressure. However, clinical studies have indicated that an acute exaggerated response of blood pressure to exercise can predict future risk of hypertension and cardiovascular mortality.
Genes involved – ACE, ACTN3, ADD1, EDN1, NOS3
Your genotype decides your propensity level to flexibility. Flexibility is the ability to move effectively through a complete range of motion in a joint. Flexibility is determined by the gender, age, training levels, temperature, and elasticity of the tissues surrounding a joint, namely, ligaments, tendons, and muscles.
Genes involved - ACTN3, COL5A1
Vitamin D Metabolism
Your genotype decides your propensity for Vitamin D Metabolism. Vitamin D plays an important role in regulating calcium levels in the blood, thereby playing an important role in maintenance of bone health. Genetic variations can influence the metabolism of vitamin D, thereby influencing the propensity of developing vitamin D deficiency.
Genes involved - CYP2R1, Near DHCR7, VDR
Your genotype decides your propensity level for Calcium Metabolism. Genetic variations can lead to abnormal calcium absorption in the body. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, more than 90% of which is present in the bones and teeth. Calcium is also important for proper functioning of the thyroid gland. Calcium is absorbed by the body in the form of phosphate salts and it is crucial for the regulation of muscle contraction and heart functioning. Calcium levels in the blood are also important in the production of clotting factors and for nerve impulse transmission.
Genes involved - CYP24A1, DGKD, Near GATA3, GCKR, CASR
Your genotype decides your propensity level of developing Osteoporosis. However, other factors such as imbalances of parathyroid and pituitary hormones, low levels of estrogen and testosterone, high concentrations of thyroid hormone, smoking, and low vitamin D levels can increase the risk of osteoporosis.
Genes involved - ALDH7A1, P2X7R, MIR34B, ALOX12, LRP5, TP53, HLA DQ2.2, CASR, VDR
Your genotype decides your propensity level of developing osteoarthritis. However, other factors like advancing age, obesity, history of joint injuries, occupational injuries, and excessive stressful activities or sports may increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis.
Genes involved - Near IL8, IL4R, OPN, IL17F, TNF, HLA DQ2.2, IL6, VDR
Your genotype decide your propensity level of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, autoimmune disease that mainly affects the joints. However, other risk factors including advanced age, obesity, smoking, and environmental factors like exposure to toxins may increase the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is reported more commonly in women than in men.
Genes involved - HLA-DPB1, PADI4, IL1B, HLA-G
Physical fitness is associated with a person’s ability to work effectively, enjoy leisure time, be healthy, resist hypokinetic diseases or conditions, and meet emergency situations. Although the development of physical fitness is the result of many things, optimal physical fitness is not possible without regular physical activity. Good fitness has been shown to be associated with reduced risk for chronic diseases, such as heart disease, and has been shown to reduce the consequences of many debilitating conditions. In addition, good fitness contributes to wellness by helping us look our best, feel good, and enjoy life.
Tobias Ehlert, Perikles Simon, Dirk A. Moser - Epigenetics in Sports, Sports Med (2013) 43:93–110
Linda S. Pescatello, Stephen M. Roth (Editors) - Exercise genomics - Molecular and Translational Medicine, ISBN 978-1-60761-354-1, DOI 10.1007/978-1-60761-355-8, Springer New York Dordrecht Heidelberg London
Claude Bouchard, Eric P. Hoffman (Editors) - Genetic and Molecular Aspects of Sport Performance, Volume XVIII of the Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine, An IOC Medicine Commission Publication
Maria Vranceanu - Role of Genetic Factors in Sports Performance, University of Medicine and Pharmacy CLUJ NAPOCA, Romania