Researchers have discovered that exercise changes the DNA in muscle cells almost immediately to reprogram muscles for strength and the structural and metabolic benefits of exercise. These observations were made evaluating the muscle cells of healthy, but inactive, men and women after exercise, as well as in muscle fibers made to contract in lab dishes.
The changes in DNA are not to the basic structure we all inherit from our parents….our genome. Rather, the changes are to our “epigenome”, a system that regulates whether genes are “switched” on or off. Epigenetic modifications in the expression of genes allow us to adapt to environmental circumstances.
The benefits of exercise have been clearly demonstrated relative to illness and death, and chemically at a metabolic level (including for diabetes). These observations, however, seem to identify the early reprogramming of muscle cells for health benefits and a genetic level.