What DNA Sport has taught me about my body



I recently had a DNA Sport genetic test done through DNAlysis Biotechnology and here’s what the test revealed about my sporting potential (I was truly surprised by my results!)

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved to exercise and move my body. As a child, I lived on a farm and being active every day came with the territory. I would ride my bicycle to school and back and participate in many sports, but the activities I really excelled in were ballet, running and gymnastics. In fact, I got my Natal colours for running and competed at SA Champs many times for gymnastics.

Since then, I’ve stopped formally competing in any specific sport, but I really enjoy a variety of exercises including running, resistance training, and my favourite – rebounding! (Rebounding is the only fitness modality I’ve discovered that has both cardiovascular and strength training benefits in one. It really does stimulate every cell, muscle and organ in the body, and it gives me the best results in the shortest amount of time.)

So, I guess looking back on my exercise choices and achievements throughout my life, I can see the type of exercises I favoured and still enjoy doing – but I had no idea just how much my genes could reveal about my sporting potential, as well as my risk for injury etc.

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What DNA Sport looks at: 

DNA Sport has given me great insight into key areas such as:

• My personal risk for injury
• My rate of recovery after exercise
• My performance potential
• …And how I personally metabolise caffeine

All I had to do was meet with A DNAlysis accredited practitioner (in this instance, I met with Sasha Mannion Maggs who is part of the DNAlysis team) and give a DNA sample, simply by rubbing a swab on the inside of my cheek for 30 seconds.

This sample is then analysed by practitioners in the DNAlysis lab who look for specific genetic variations that impact how my body responds to things like exercise and caffeine. My results were out in two weeks and I sat with Sasha to discuss them.

This is what my DNA Sport test revealed:

My risk for injury

I tend to feel stiff quite quickly after intense exercise and have been prone to injuries in the past. Certain gene variations proved this to be true as Sasha explained that I have a moderate risk for soft tissue injuries like tendon tears and ligament tears.

Sasha explained that when you apply load to muscular tissues through exercise, the tissue degrades and then remodels or repairs itself.

In my case, this repair process is a little slow, so Sasha recommended that to prevent injuries in future, I should incorporate more resistance training and flexibility training into my weekly training regime.

She also mentioned that diet and supplementation play a key role in helping muscle fibres and tissue to repair faster after exercise. Some of the important building blocks for collagen repair include amino acids, protein, vitamin C and iron.

The truth is, recovery plays a key role in reducing your risk of Injury. If you push your body with exercise, your recovery needs to be optimal.

My rate of recovery

My DNA Sport test showed that my rate of recovery is moderate, but not amazing. In most cases, it’s normal for the body to respond to exercise with a level of inflammation and oxidative stress (which is an imbalance of free radicals in the body that can lead to cell and tissue damage).

In my case, however, my genes reveal that my level of inflammation is a bit high – and I can feel this if I do too much intense exercise in a week. Sometimes, after a few hard runs in a row, I feel bloated and my body literally feels inflamed- and my genes proved this to be true.

To speed up recovery, Sasha says it’s important to:

• Get enough sleep
• Have enough rest days and recovery days in between high-intensity exercise sessions
• Space out high and low-intensity exercises in a week
• Avoid anything in your diet that causes excess inflammation. Pro-inflammatory foods include; processed foods, sugary drinks, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, and processed/deli meats such as sausages.
• Include more anti-inflammatory foods in your diet which include, fatty fish (I’m a vegetarian so would skip this), omega-3s, avocado oils and certain herbs and spices such as turmeric, curcumin and ginger.

My performance markers

We all have genetic variations that indicate whether we will tend towards endurance-type activities or power activities such as heavy weightlifting. While some people are better at short, sharp bursts of exercise (such as sprints or a high-intensity aerobics class) or lifting heavy weights in the gym, others are better suited to endurance-type activities such as running or cycling.

My results were quite surprising. It seems like I have an advantage for endurance performance. According to my genetic profile, my body will respond well to low to moderate types of exercise such as running for long periods of time. This is because my body utilities my energy reserves such as glycogen effectively, and I have a high V02 max, which is the rate at which my heart, lungs and muscles can effectively use oxygen.

Sasha highlighted a particular gene that was interesting, and that is the PPARGC1A gene, which came up as a “high impact” result. Basically, this result means that I have more mitochondria- which is where energy is produced during exercise. This gives me the ability to produce more energy during exercise and to go for longer. I seem to have that endurance advantage, which is wonderful news!

Interestingly, I also seem to have strong power genes and fast twitch muscle fibres which allow me to manage well with HIIT workouts, for instance.

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To optimise my performance...

Focus on moderate intensity exercise for longer periods of time such cycling and running and stay within the aerobic training zone where my heart rate is steady.

And when it comes to resistance training, Sasha says that my body will respond better to lighter weights and more repetitions versus heavier weights and fewer repetitions.
This means I shouldn’t really aim to be a powerlifter!

Why rebounding is ideal for me

I can see from my DNA Sport results, why rebounding suits me so well as an exercise modality. Because there’s little to no impact when you bounce, my body recovers faster after each training session and my body doesn’t feel inflamed, even after teaching two classes a day. I can also bounce every day with less rest or recovery days because my joints and muscles are supported by the trampoline.

Also, you only use lighter dumbbells, ankle weights, resistance bands and body bars when you bounce because bouncing itself is really tough!

My ability to metabolise caffeine

Lastly, Sasha highlighted that I am a fast metaboliser of caffeine and I know this as I feel the effects of coffee almost straight away.

She said that I will benefit from caffeine, in terms of improving strength and endurance performance so long as I take some in 30 to 60 minutes before I exercise.

My particular genetic profile shows no link to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease of caffeine intake, so that’s really good news.

My take-home message

Even though I’m a seasoned exerciser and have been involved in some sort of sporting activity my entire life, these results were truly eye-opening and gave me great insight into the types of exercise I should be focusing on- to achieve the best overall results for myself.

I also realised just how prone I am to inflammation – and that I should be eating more anti-inflammatory foods, as well as herbs and spices, to help my body recover.

Click here for more information on DNA Sport or to book a consultation with an accredited practitioner.