Is Motivation to Exercise Genetic?

Is Motivation to Exercise Genetic?

Finding the inspiration to work out can be a daunting task. It is not that you do not understand the benefits of exercising, it is just that you just feel like it. If only exercise could be marketed to me like you are being marketed chocolate. Do you think pro athletes are genetically wired to exercise? Do you know that fitness trainers often find it hard to work out? So you are not alone. 

exercise motivation

Xcode life mentions that exercise initiation depends on 3 factors:

  • Self-perception
  • Social support 
  • Positive feedback 

They revealed that after initiation, other factors motivate the person to continue exercise

  • Biological characters (the sex of an individual, being overweight)
  • Social factors (the level of fitness and physical activity of people around you)
  • Psychological factors (self-efficacy, self-confidence)
  • Behavioral attributes (diet, alcohol consumption, smoking habits)
  • Physical environment (exercise facilities, equipment)
  • Genetic factors

Alex Hutchinson Ph.D agrees that "it is impossible to deny that your genes do play a role in your athletic destiny. According to a 2006 study of over 85,000 twins in seven countries, about 62 percent of the variation in exercise participants seems to be inherited. This could be because of personality traits that run in families, self-disciplined people tend to exercise more, while those who are more anxious or depressed exercise less" (26). The study reveals that genetics influences our level of motivation to exercise. The question now is how much does genetic affect exercise motivation.

He disclosed that "the idea that your exercise destiny is preordained took another blow from a 2009 study that examined the links between physical fitness and intelligence in 1.2 million Swedish men who enlisted for military service between 1950 and 1976. Among these men were 6,294 twins, which allowed the researchers to separate the effects of nature from nature. They found that those who increased their cardiovascular fitness between the ages of 15 and 18, a time when the brain is developing rapidly, scored better on cognitive tests and went on to greater educational achievements later in life. Crucially, more than 80 percent of the differences between subjects were explained by environmental factors, while less than 15 percent could be attributed to genetics.  While genes might affect how our bodies respond to exercise, the choice of whether or not to exercise still resides with each of us. So if you've been blaming your DNA when you slack off your exercise routine, you'll have to find a new excuse!" (27). Since exercise motivation is only affected by our genes by 15 percent, it is safe to say that we can induce motivation through other means. 



Hutchinson, A, Ph.D. "Getting Started". Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights? edited by Alex Hutchinson, Harper Collins, 2011, pp. 25-27

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