HIIT or Endurance? How To Design Personalized Exercise Protocols with Integrated Genetics

How Integrated Genetics Can Help You Design Personalized Exercise Protocols

Why Single SNP Analysis Doesn’t Work in Exercise Protocols


Are your patients out of shape? Five months into the sedentary pandemic lifestyle, your patients may be asking you how to drop those extra pounds. This is a golden opportunity to help your patients find new and exciting exercise options. But which style is best – HIIT or endurance?

As with any personalized recommendation, the answer depends on the patient. And their genetics. But did you know that viewing genes in isolation doesn’t give you the full patient picture? In fact, prescribing an exercise protocol without integrating your gene analysis could do your patients more harm than good.

Let’s take a look at why single gene analysis can be dangerous, and how you can use integrated gene analysis to design safe, effective, super-personalized exercise protocols for your patients.

Why Genetic Relationships Matter

When you order hormone lab tests, do you look at just one hormone?

We have long recognized the strong relationships between hormones, and their intricate feedback mechanisms. We may analyze HPA axis-related hormones together in stress conditions. We may even loop in other axes (like the OAT axis) to view them together.

We understand that if we analyze hormones in isolation, we risk making recommendations that are ineffective at best, and dangerous at worst.

It’s the same with genes and their single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) – relationships are key. But how do you understand these relationships and put that information to use in your practice? Let’s look at how single SNP analysis can go wrong when it comes to choosing the best exercise protocol for your patients.


Using Integrated Genetic Analysis to Find the Right Exercise Type

Most health care practitioners look to the gene ACTN3 to direct their exercise protocol recommendations. This gene deals with the type of muscle fibers produced. At first glance, this seems straightforward. Fast twitch fibers? Recommend sprinting or HIIT-style exercise. Slow twitch fibers? Recommend endurance exercise like long-distance running. But is it really that simple?

Beyond Muscle Fibres

Its easy to get caught up in specific genes, but we must remember to use this information within the context of our existing clinical knowledge.

When it comes to exercise, is muscle fiber type the only consideration? All muscle fibers need enough oxygen, blood flow, sodium and potassium to function optimally.  Therefore, no exercise-related genetic analysis would be complete without looking at two other closely related genes.

The gene ADRB2 deals with how well the bronchi dilate, which impacts how much oxygen gets to muscles during different styles of exercise.

The gene ACE deals with blood flow as well as how much sodium and potassium gets to muscles during exercise. The role of this gene makes sense when we consider the blood vessel-dilating role of ACE inhibitor drugs.

The Dangers of Single SNP Analysis

Imagine if your patient had the ACTN3 SNP that indicated fast twitch muscle fibers, and you prescribed a HIIT exercise regimen based on that gene alone. Even the fastest-twitching muscle fibers won’t be at their best without short bursts of blood and oxygen during exercise.

Without examining the ADRB2 and ACE genes, this recommendation could result in more cortisol release, increased inflammation, higher risk of injury and weight gain.

As you can see, its not just a matter of prescribing exercise protocols that help your patients maintain a healthy weight. Its also about designing personalized protocols that don’t lead to additional stress, metabolic or inflammatory issues.


Finding the Right Genetic Report: 5 Red Flags to Avoid

Genetic platforms are vital tools to help you perform these complex, integrated analyses. With many such reports now on the market for health care practitioners, how do you choose the best one for your practice? Look out for these 5 red flags:

Single Gene Analysis Only

Now that you understand the importance of integrated gene analysis, you know that examining genes in isolation doesn’t give you the full picture. Does your genetic platform include gene integration?

Gene Description One-Liners

Most reports offer one-line descriptions of genetic codings. Not only can this information be insufficient, it may conflict with other gene descriptions in the report. Confusing, no?

Simplistic Treatment Protocols

Many reports provide potential treatment protocols. But they don’t address the full spectrum of potential treatment targets. Without diet, exercise and supplementation recommendations, these reports are hard to put to practical use with patients.

Too Many Genes

The more genes, the better the analysis, right? Wrong. Look for a report that favours quality over quantity. Too many genes that may not be relevant can be overwhelming and exhausting to analyze.

Biased Supplement Recommendations

Some supplement companies have created their own genetic platforms. The problem? Their report only includes theirsupplements. This may work if you only use supplements from that particular company. But when you’re looking for the best therapeutic products, regardless of brand? Not so helpful.

Sound familiar? Where can you get a report that is truly comprehensive, integrative and useful?

The GeneRx Report Advantage

These very frustrations led Naturopathic Doctor Penny Kendall-Reedto develop GeneRx. Designed by practitioners for practitioners, a GeneRx reportgives you the full patient picture. Simply upload your patients’ 23andMe raw data to get:

  • Integrated gene analysis in relevant, easy-to-read sections: metabolism, stress, exercise, detox, inflammation, immunity and more.
  • Detailed treatment protocols including diet, exercise and supplements.
  • Supplement recommendations based on research and clinical efficacy.
  • Regular updates on new genes and supplements.

Are you ready to use personal genetic testing to offer truly individualized exercise advice and recommendations to your patients? Download a sample GeneRx reportto see how it compares with your current genetic report, or learn more about how GeneRx differs from other reports.


P.S. – want more info on integrated genetics for weight management? In the just-released book Fix Your Genes to Fit Your Jeans, Dr. Penny Kendall-Reed, BSc, ND and her husband Dr. Stephen Reed provide insight into why no one diet works for everyone. A great read for health care practitioners and patients alike, its brimming with easy-to-follow personalized diet, lifestyle and natural supplement guidelines.