New research shows that people who have a particular genetic variation are more likely be inactive. And these people also get fewer of the benefits from the exercise they do get around to doing. It’s harder for them to lower their blood pressure, cholesterol and body fat.

For instance, people with the lazy gene (called a melanocortin-4 receptor) who do weight training get significantly less muscle growth from it. “If you have a really, really bad biological predisposition to be inactive, then the physicians won’t waste too much time on trying to activate you,” says geneticist Tuomo Rankinen. “They will try to find other ways to control health risks, such as diet or medication.”

Andrea Petersen writes in the Wall Street Journal that researchers think they can create customized exercise routines tailored to people’s genetics. Researcher Jim Hagberg says, “In the future, we may be able to say to the patient who comes in saying he goes for a walk three times a week, ‘Your genetics say you need something (with) higher intensity to optimize the benefit in your case.”‘

When you’re not lifting weights, relax on the couch with a good book.

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