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READER SUBMITTED: Do Our Genes Influence How We Respond To Exercise?

Exercise has many health benefits. Yet, most people stop their exercise programs after they start them. What if your genes were holding you back? Scientists at Hartford Hospital and the University of Connecticut are raising money through the crowdfunding platform Experiment.com to find out.

Dr. Linda Pescatello, a Board of Trustees distinguished professor, and Amanda Zaleski, an exercise physiologist from Hartford Hospital are leading this team of researchers who are attempting to identify key genes that influence the way blood pressure responds to exercise among adults with hypertension. This field of study is called exercise genomics.

Hypertension is the most common primary diagnosis in the United States. Over 60 percent of adults in the United States have high blood pressure. If we live into old age, nearly all Americans will develop hypertension. Regular exercise is recommended to prevent, treat, and control hypertension. Yet, most people do not participate in the amount of exercise needed to lower blood pressure.

"When we started this research in 2001, we thought we would find the key genes that explained why for most people exercise lowers blood pressure, while for other people it does not," said Dr. Pescatello. "However, there appear to be many genes that associate with how blood pressure responds to exercise, and those that have the most important effects have yet to be identified."

Through Experiment's platform, Dr. Linda Pescatello and their team are sharing progress reports in real-time. When backers give money to the project, they receive behind-the-scenes access to research updates, and recognition in the published results.

If fully funded, the researchers will analyze stored blood samples from the people that have previously completed their exercise studies. They will use the new technology of deep gene sequencing to find genes that predict who responds and who does not respond to exercise as antihypertensive lifestyle therapy. Their findings may enable them to create personalized exercise prescriptions to maximize the blood pressure lowering effects of exercise for people with hypertension.

The project has 16 days remaining to meet a funding target of $6,000. So far, they have raised $4,829 with the help of 64 backers.

Experiment recently surpassed $800,000 in total research funding raised. The site has been featured in The Economist, Forbes, Nature, and The New York Times.

For more information, visit: https://experiment.com/projects/a-prescription-for-health-and-fitness-based-on-your-genes.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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