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Study: Regular Exercise Can Change Our DNA

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FILE - A bicyclist pedals along main street in Richford, Vermont. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
FILE - A bicyclist pedals along main street in Richford, Vermont. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

Swedish scientists say they have proven that physical exercise changes not only our health but also our genetic material.

Scientists have long known that some diets or exposure to chemicals can change the way genes send and receive chemical signals in the body. But nothing was known about the influence of physical exercise.

The Swedish study shows that exercise can have an effect on our deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA. DNA is often called the "building blocks of life." DNA is the material that carries genetic information in cells.

The study was a project of scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. They asked 23 young, healthy women and men to exercise on stationary bicycles with only one leg, several times a week for three months. The scientists then compared DNA taken from muscle cells in both legs. They found DNA had changed greatly in the leg that got more exercise. Many of the genes that changed were linked to energy, insulin and muscle inflammation or pain.

Scientists say this shows that regular exercise affects our genes and can lead to better health. They say future studies would examine how long the changes last if someone stops exercising.

I'm Christopher Cruise.

This story was reported by VOA Science Correspondent George Putic. Christopher Cruise wrote it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in this Story

DNA/deoxyribonucleic acid n. a substance that carries genetic information in the cells of plants and animals

exposure n. the fact or condition of being affected by something or experiencing something; the condition of being exposed to something

insulin n. a substance that your body makes and uses to turn sugar into energy

Are you surprised that the human body's DNA can be changed by exercise? Do you exercise? If you do, do you notice any changes in your body from the exercises? We want to hear from you. Write your thoughts in the comments section.

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