Your guide to DNA fitness testing

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Ever wondered why you couldn’t hit that personal best on the track, or why you don’t feel like you experience the benefits of swimming? The answer could lie within your own DNA.

Exercise genetics studies the links between our genes and the many factors that influence exercise and fitness. This includes looking at the types of activities we could be more likely to excel at, whether we're more at risk of injuries, and our maximum oxygen capacity. Our Evergreen Life DNA Test can unlock your fitness potential so you can tailor your exercise based on what works best for your body.

A person doing fitness exercise, jumping over a hurdle with DNA double helixes around them.

How does our fitness DNA testing work?

The process of actually taking a home fitness DNA test is incredibly simple. All it takes is a few easy steps:

  • You provide a DNA sample by spitting into a tube. If you’re doing our Evergreen Life DNA Test, you should also link your test to your Evergreen Life app by following the instructions in the box. You’ll then be asked to send it off in the post.
  • Your DNA will be analysed, searching for small markers in your DNA called Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms or SNPs, pronounced “Snips”.
  • Decades of genetic research has revealed significant links between individual SNPs and impacts on health and wellbeing. While some SNPs can actually reveal an increased likelihood of contracting certain diseases, our Evergreen Life DNA Test doesn't analyse for these, just as it doesn’t test for ancestry. This is because we want to focus on offering insights that you can do something about to improve your health.
  • Having a certain SNP does not mean the linked outcome is certain; it merely suggests it's more likely. So, it can be wise to tweak your lifestyle and behaviours where possible based on the information your DNA test results provide you with. The aim is for you to be more informed and therefore more in control of your health and wellbeing, and that includes your fitness.
  • The information collected from the analysis we do is used to create a report about which SNPs you have. This could include genes which show a predisposition for certain fitness traits like effective blood sugar regulation, enhanced recovery or whether you tend to experience more or less cardiac strain and fatigue, to name just a few examples.
  • You’ll be sent recommendations on how you may want to structure your fitness routine or modify your  activity levels based on the results of your DNA analysis. You may find that some SNPs and their associated traits contradict each other. Don’t worry, your Evergreen Life DNA Test results help you navigate the science by giving you a balanced summary that supports you to weigh up what most of the SNPs are pointing to and make changes based on the result that comes up most frequently.

What does science say about genetic fitness tests?

The field of exercise science has accelerated rapidly over the past few years, and a number of genes and variations have been identified as having an influence on some aspects of exercising. This includes our endurance, muscle strength, ability to burn fat, and even your recovery time following a workout! Did you know there’s even a gene that makes a receptor for vitamin D, which has an important role in regulating levels of calcium and phosphorous? These minerals have a direct effect on skeletal muscle mass, strength, and function and are therefore critical for exercise performance.

It’s not just how we respond to exercise that has an impact on our fitness, but also the way our bodies are individually built. Other genetic variations have been found to cause differences in our musculoskeletal systems - such as our joints, tendons and ligaments - or our muscle’s ability to extract and deliver oxygen, which they need to function.

By taking a DNA fitness test, you’ll be much better informed about how your body works on a genetic level and can start to exercise in a way that’ll yield the best results for you.

An Evergreen Life DNA Test with the DNA instructions leaflet visible.


What an Evergreen Life DNA Test can tell you about your fitness

Our Evergreen Life DNA Test goes beyond genetic fitness testing, providing actionable insights into Diet, Metabolism, Skin and Happiness as well. For more information, please read our article on everything you need to know about our genetic testing.

It’s always beneficial to have a well-rounded exercise regime made up of different types of exercise including endurance and power training and muscle strength.

Endurance training is characterised by continually using a group of muscles that can produce sub-maximal force over a period of time or through repetitive movements. An example of endurance training is running. Power training on the other hand, is where a group of muscles are used to generate maximal force in as short an amount of time as possible. Olympic lifting, long jump and shot put are all power activities that need a large amount of explosive force. Muscle Strength exercise, however, refers to particular groups of muscles being able to produce maximum force to overcome a resistance within a single exertion. These types of activities, such as weightlifting, require heavy resistance, a low number of repetitions and often demand a very long rest period afterwards.

In the Fitness category of our DNA test, we provide insights into the following areas, as well as what you can do to improve your overall fitness in relation to endurance training, power training, muscle strength, joint function, and exercise recovery:

Endurance training

  • Are you more likely to excel at endurance or strength training? Might you have enhanced cardiovascular performance? If so, you can then choose to do more endurance training, while still maintaining a varied fitness routine, if improving your cardiac performance aligns with your fitness goals.
  • How are you likely to respond to endurance exercise? How you react to it can be helpful in identifying where you focus to reach your fitness goals.
  • How's your maximum blood flow and muscle efficiency likely to affect your response to endurance exercise? Knowing your body intricately like this can help you decide if endurance exercise is the best activity for you.
  • Are you likely to experience an increased inflammatory response to intense exercise and how might your maximum oxygen capacity (VO2) affect your endurance performance? If so, how can you reduce the risk of increased inflammatory response so you can still participate in the intense exercise you enjoy?
  • Are you likely to be more effective at maintaining blood sugar levels for endurance sports? If not, what steps can you take to maintain those all-important blood sugar levels whilst enjoying endurance sports?
  • Are you more likely to see changes in body mass index (BMI), fat mass, percentage of body fat, and abdominal fat in response to endurance exercise? Depending on your goals, knowing this can help inform where you focus your efforts.
A person doing endurance training at a gym.

Power training

  • Are you likely to excel at activities requiring strength and speed? Perhaps you have “the sprint gene” that contains codes for a protein found in fast-twitch muscle fibres, which give you sudden bursts of energy to help you move quicker but for shorter periods of time meaning you get tired quickly? If so, you may want to include more exercises that demand strength and speed in your workouts.
  • Are you likely to experience increased muscle growth and power? If the answer's yes and if increased muscle growth and power is your target, you’ll know to stick to power training.
  • Are you more likely to have muscle efficiency that supports power training? If you do, you’ll be naturally well suited to power training.
  • Are you likely to excel at activities requiring strength/power? If this is the case, power training is likely to be the optimal type of exercise for you.
  • Are you likely to have increased inflammation after strenuous exercise? If you are, then how can you take steps to avoid inflammation after exercise and what alternative exercises are there?
  • Are you likely to have increased muscle mass required for power sports? If so, power training is probably the ideal exercise for you.
A person doing power training with weights at the gym.

Muscle strength

  • Are you more likely to gain or lose fat in response to strength training and how can you improve your exercise regime with this in mind?
  • What response are you likely to see with strength training in relation to body mass and how will this influence what types of exercise you do to help you reach your health goals?
  • Are you more likely to experience increased muscle strength in response to strength training? If your aim is to build muscle, you’ll know more strength training is the way to go about it.
A person lifting a weight in a gym.

Joint function

  • Do you carry an increased risk of joint injuries and does this mean there are types of exercises you ought to avoid or can do to reduce the risk of harm to your joints?
A person holding their knee. Joint injury joint pain.

Exercise recovery

  • Do you have an enhanced ability to recover from exercise? If not, what steps can you take to speed up your muscle recovery?
  • Do you have increased protection from inflammation following exercise, and can therefore alter your workout routine accordingly?
Two people recovering from exercise.

What else to consider

Exercise is about so much more than losing weight. Of course, that may be one of your primary goals, but it’s also incredibly important for your mental health. Whilst your DNA fitness test may recommend a certain type of exercise for optimum benefits, if you don’t enjoy that specific type of exercise, that’s okay. It’s worth remembering to balance your desire to reach specific goals with finding an exercise routine that you love. Otherwise, you’ll only put off exercising more and more. Keeping your fitness routine varied is important too as all types of exercise - cardio, endurance, power, muscle building and flexibility - help your body function well.

A variety of fruit and vegetables in a bowl next to some exercise weights and scales.

Exercise is also only one part of the puzzle; being healthy also means eating the right foods and looking after your mental health. And Evergreen Life is here to help you every step of the way.


References

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Written by
Dr. Farrah Leigh Winterbottom

Meet Dr. Farrah Leigh Winterbottom, Head of Scientific Testing and our Genetic Expert at Evergreen Life.

Article updated:
February 18, 2022
Reviewed by:
Anna Keeble BA MA
Wellbeing Expert
Dr James Harmsworth King MBBS MPhil PhD
Biotechnology & Medical Expert