Some people may benefit more from fitness training than others because of their genetic make-up, according to a report published in Nature last week. The gene involved, which comes in two versions (long and short), makes an enzyme known as ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme).
The researchers studied a group of 58 army recruits before and after 11 weeks of training. They found that the muscles of those with with two long copies of the ACE gene became more efficient, whereas the muscles of those with two short ACE genes had hardly changed. 'Exercise benefits everybody,' says Professor Steve Humphries, a British Heart Foundation scientist at University College London. 'But if you want to be a muscle builder, you'd have to work a hell of a lot harder if you had two short ACE genes than if you had two long ones.'
The scientists say their work has implications for research into heart failure, as new treatments that increase the efficiency of heart and skeletal muscles may aid recovery.