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According to a recent study of twins, regular exercise may transform not only waistlines but also the chemicals in the body that control the functioning of genes.

Physical activity may contribute to change in epigenetics 

The study by Washington State University Published in the Scientific Reports journal established that the more physically active twin in identical twins had low indications of metabolic disease as measured by BMI and waist size. 

This has also been linked to variations in their epigenetic mechanisms, which are the chemical mechanisms that surround DNA, are unrelated to the DNA sequence, and regulate gene expression. For example, epigenetic markers associated with low metabolic syndrome, a disorder that can result in stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, were found in the more physically active twins. In addition, the research reveals that signs of metabolic abnormalities are influenced significantly by an individual’s interactions with their surroundings compared to their inherited DNA because identical twins share a similar genetic makeup.

WSU biologist and the corresponding author of the study said that study results offer a connection between metabolic disease and physical activity. Physical exercise has been known to reduce obesity susceptibility, but it seems that through epigenetics, exercise affects different cell types, especially those involved in metabolic disease.

Twins have different physiology. 

According to the study, most of the twins were discordant, implying they differed on physical activity measures, BMI and neighbourhood walkability. However, the twin who exercised frequently exhibited epigenetic changes in sections of the DNA termed DNA methylation areas, which were associated with a lower BMI and smaller waist size. Additionally, those areas are linked to more than 50 genes which have so far been discovered as being unique to strenuous exercise and metabolic risks.

According to Skinner, epigenetics could explain why identical twins experience different ailments. Skinner said that if DNA sequence and heredity were the sole factors influencing physiology, then twins would have identical diseases. However, they don’t. Thus, the genesis of the disease must be influenced by the twins’ surroundings in some way.