Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Wednesday | July 22, 2009
Home : Profiles in Medicine
Genes, age affect fitness


Our level of fitness will determine improvement rate after starting an exercise programme. If we are experiencing a low level of cardiorespiratory fitness at the beginning of the programme, we will notice improvements quickly, all things being equal. In contrast, those who have a higher level of fitness initially are likely to observe a lower level of improvement. They will also require more intense effort over a longer time with more frequent exercise sessions to achieve comparable results.


Our genetic make-up establishes the basic tools for the levels of improvement attainable. Some people find it difficult to reduce weight or sculpt muscles compared to others and this can be attributed to our make-up and exercise prescription.


Our age is significant in the development of an exercise prescription. However there are some areas in which improvements are relatively the same regardless of age. The rate of improvement tends to be slower and less apparent in older persons.

The frequency, intensity and the level of resistance applied in any exercise routine will determine the results. People who are younger, stronger and quicker are able to do more work than older people. This means that some of us will have to invest more time and effort in our exercise routine to see improvement. As we get older, especially after the age of 60 when ageing seems to speed up, exercise is even more necessary to prevent the deterioration of our body and overall wellness.


Gender does not significantly impact exercise improvement. The exceptions, however, are pronounced especially in relation to muscle mass, bone size, bone density and bone weight. These are smaller in women compared to men and change varies with exercise based on gender.

Dr Kenneth Gardner is an exercise physiologist at Holiday Hills Research Center; email: yourhealth@gleanerjm.com.

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