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Exercise benefits could be in the genes

15th August 2005

The benefits of exercise on elderly people may be down to their genes, according to new research.

Researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine discovered that an enzyme involved in blood pressure regulation might also influence how the body responds to exercise.

The study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association said the gene that controls levels of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) may have an affect on an older persons ability to move agilely.

People with a gene combination that produced low levels of ACE production were 45 per cent more likely have trouble climbing stairs or walking long distances compared to those with gene combinations associated with a high level of ACE production.

The study looked at over 3,000 well functioning adults aged 70 -79 for a period of four years.

Mobility problems often precede disability in older people, with these adults at four times the risk of entering a nursing home than those people who are mobile.

The gene combos, which regulate ACE production, can be inherited in three combinations, with one third of participants receiving the gene pattern which produces high levels of ACE.