Six specific exercises found to curb weight gain despite obesity genes

Some unlucky individuals have inherited genes that make them more likely to become obese compared to other people. Diet plays a major role in obesity outcomes, of course, but activity also contributes to one's body weight. A study recently published in PLOS Genetics details six specific exercises that help curb weight gain in people with genetic risk factors for obesity, as well as exercises that don't offer the same benefits.

The research comes out of National Taiwan University where scientist Wan-Yu Lin and colleagues evaluated the effects of different types of exercise on 18,424 participants ages 30 to 70 years. Self-reported exercise information was compared with the participants' genes to tease apart the potential link between avoiding weight gain and engaging in certain activities.

By analyzing this data, the researchers identified six exercises that seemingly helped participants keep their body weight lower despite having a genetic risk for obesity. The number one activity was jogging, followed by:

- Walking

- Power walking

- Mountain climbing

- Long yoga practices

- 'International standard' dancing

However, not all exercises were linked with lower obesity risk. The scientist found — to their surprise, they note — that swimming, cycling, stretching, and participating in Dance Dance Revolution didn't help curb weight gain in these predisposed individuals.

The researchers explain that unlike some past studies evaluating the impact of exercise on obesity outcomes, this study looked at multiple measures of obesity instead of being limited to BMI. These include measurements that are tightly linked to metabolic health issues.