By Daniel G. Amen, MD

There is no shortage of research on the effects of exercise on fat loss. Decades of scientific evidence has found that exercise, when combined with a healthy eating plan, can help you lose the blubber and keep it off. Of course, exercise burns calories, which is one of the keys to weight loss and a trimmer figure. But burning calories isn’t the only way that exercise can help you trim your waist. Check out these exercise benefits.

Turn off the obesity gene. Exciting new research out of Sweden shows that exercise can deactivate the “obesity gene.” Haven’t heard of the obesity gene? Scientists have identified a gene variant, known in scientific circles as FTO rs9939609, that predisposes people to obesity. A person can have no copies, one copy, or two copies of the gene variant, and your likelihood of obesity increases with the number of copies you have.

According to the Swedish study, having one copy of the gene variant is associated with a higher BMI, greater body fat percentage, and larger waist circumference compared to those with no copies of the gene. Having two copies of the gene variant is associated with even higher BMI, body fat, and waist size.

What is so exciting about this study, which analyzed data from 752 European adolescents, is that those who had the gene variant but got at least 60 minutes daily of moderate to vigorous activity were no more likely to be overweight than those who had no copies. So even if you are genetically loaded to have a weight problem, you can blunt the effects of your genetic makeup.

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