Genetics of physical activity and physical fitness

N.M. Schutte, Meike Bartels, Eco de Geus

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Regular physical activity and fitness are key contributors to children’s health. It is important to understand sources of variation in phenotypes seen among children and adolescents. It is important to calculate the relative importance of genetic and environmental factors to observed individual differences. Heritability estimates of physical activity vary, depending on sample size and measurement instrument, but the overall importance of environmental factors seems to decrease in adolescence, whereas genetic effects become more prominent. Twin and family studies show that individual differences in maximal oxygen uptake, muscle strength, flexibility, and balance are affected by genetic factors. Some evidence is found for specific genes coding for physical activity and fitness, but children and adolescent studies are limited. Future research should prioritize these target groups as knowledge of the source of individual differences in physical activity and fitness at different time points can optimize the choice and timing of exercise intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford textbook of Children’s Sport and Exercise Medicine (3 edn)
EditorsNeil Armstrong, Willem van Mechelen
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherThe Oxford University Press
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780191817519
ISBN (Print)9780198757672
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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