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01.12.2017 | Cardiovascular Genomics (TL Assimes, Section Editor) | Ausgabe 12/2017

Current Cardiology Reports 12/2017

The Genetics of Physical Activity

Current Cardiology Reports > Ausgabe 12/2017
Xiaochen Lin, Charles B. Eaton, JoAnn E. Manson, Simin Liu
Wichtige Hinweise
This article is part of the Topical Collection on Cardiovascular Genomics


Purpose of Review

Physical activity (PA) is a well-established modifiable lifestyle determinant for multiple cardio-metabolic outcomes. While many psychosocial and environmental correlates of PA have been identified, current understanding of the genetic architecture that contributes to PA is still very limited, especially when compared to other phenotypes such as obesity and diabetes.

Recent Findings

This review systematically and comprehensively assesses available evidence from animal experiments, family studies, population-based candidate gene analyses, and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) studying the genetics of physical activity patterns. It discusses the scientific evolution in the field of PA genetics, including the recognition of increased sample sizes, the shift from early family-based approaches to association-based design, and the rapidly advancement of enabling genotyping and sequencing technologies. In addition, this review points to the gaps in the current knowledge base, including the general lack of GWAS and whole-genome sequence analyses particularly understudied populations, and the need for large-scale collaborative effort in both observational and experimental settings. In this review, we also call for research utilizing systems biology strategies for PA genetic research and accounting for complex gene-environment interactions that may vary by race/ethnicity.


The epidemic of physical inactivity has been a public health nemesis, encompassing a large burden of diseases and high societal costs. A better understanding of the genetic basis of PA can inform public health policies for the prevention, control, and treatment of many chronic diseases related to physical inactivity.

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