According to the study conducted by the researchers at the University of California, the urge to keep fit or to simply laze around all day is driven by the person’s genes. These genes travel down the hierarchy from generation to generation.
The findings of the study are published in the 'Proceedings of the Royal Society.
Details of the study
For the purpose of the study, researchers tracked 224 laboratory mice for seven years.
The mice were randomly divided into eight separate lines. While four lines were selectively bred for high levels of daily running, the others were used as controls.
Selectively bred animals are genetically engineered for particular genetic traits.
With wheels attached to respective cages, the mice were allowed to run around voluntarily.
Researchers measured to distance traveled by each mice per day.
Interestingly, the mice bred to enjoy running produced offsprings who also enjoyed running, while offsrpings in the control group were just as active or lazy as their parents, researchers found.
The findings showed that baby mice inherited the traits of activity from its parents.
The findings come across as a huge bonus for human health.
Researchers believe that people who suffer from laziness can now be treated pharmacologically with drugs that target the genes that specifically boost activity.
“In humans, activity levels vary widely from couch-potato-style inactivity to highly active athletic endeavors. We have a huge epidemic of obesity in Western society, and yet we have little understanding of what determines variation among individuals for voluntary exercise levels,” study’s principal investigator, Professor Theodore Garland, said.
Drugs specifically designed to combat laziness will directly target the genes and alter them, Garland says. An active lifestyle may help ward-off obesity, cancer, cardiovascular troubles, diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease.
In the future, Garland believes, “people could be treated pharmacologically for low activity levels through drugs that targeted specific genes that promote activity."
“Pharmacological interventions in the future could make it more pleasurable for people to engage in voluntary exercise. Such interventions could also make it less comfortable for people to sit still for long periods of time,” Garland cited.