I recently read an article in the New York TIme’s that peaked my interest about the link to cancer and our innate fitness which is part of our genes. According to recent research findings out of Colorado State University, Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC and University of Michigan found that rats with low innate fitness were found to be about four times as likely to develop breast cancer after being exposed to known carcinogens compared to their counterparts with innate fitness at birth.
These studies peal away deeper layers of how fitness plays a role in our heredity and unravels more clues into the relationship between fitness, exercise, cancer and aging.
Most people think of aerobic fitness which is the use of elevated heart rates to get more oxygen to the muscles, is built in HIIT (high intensity interval training) classes, spinning or running, but you would only be half right. There is evidence that suggests that aerobic fitness can be a genetic factor which differs from family to family, person to person. Exercise with out a shadow of doubt facilitates aerobic health, but you might be surprised to learn that your aerobic capacity is given to you at birth. Although these studies come with great evidence, I am for one not convinced that we can not improve our aerobic health with time, consistency and eustress (good stress) from the right conditioning program.
However, this “innate fitness” that we are born with that scientist are studying has proven to show a four times higher risk of breast cancer compared to their counterparts who had a higher innate fitness level at birth. I know what you’re probably thinking. Do I have innate fitness? How do I know? Can I measure it? Yes, you can’t, and not that I am aware of. So what I can do about it if I don’t know? The answer is, You can do a lot and you’re probably already doing something.
There is no doubt we all have a predisposition to certain diseases based on our genetics that include risk factors, health factors and now fitness factors. But that doesn’t mean you should roll over and just accept your fate. No way! It means you have to work a little harder, do more to reverse your genetic codes, raise your health and fitness standards and be more deliberate in your intentions to create optimal health and fitness for yourself.
Here are my top 3 recommendations to build aerobic fitness at any level or at any age:
10,000 steps a day – I know this isn’t earth shattering news, but the app, smart phone and smart watch markets are designed today to help you manage this simple, but effective way to increase your lifestyle activity.
Increase your heart rate above 65% of your max heart rate (220 – age / %) 3x a week for at ten minutes or more.
Take a class or do an aerobic activity like spinning, boxing, HIIT training or an aerobics class 1x a week that challenges your aerobic fitness and increases your heart rate to 80% (220 – age / %).
The studies about our innate fitness and the link to cancer gives us a peak into the world of science and the discoveries our scholarly researchers are finding everyday, but by no means should you accept this as your fate at birth good or bad. You still have to create new experiences both physically and mentally to maximize your potential to live with optimal health and fitness
In the words of anthropologist, Joan D. Vinge, “We are all born with a unique genetic blueprint, which lays out the basic characteristics of our personality as well as our physical health and appearance… And yet, we all know that life experiences do change us.”