Guest blog: Does sport influence epigenetics?

How can hiking or biking improve your epigenetic health in the long term? In the following guest blog article, the experts from HealVersity share some exciting facts about the relationship between epigenetics and sport. Take a few minutes to learn how hiking or biking in the Nockberge Mountains impacts your health at a cellular level.


Everyone knows that exercising is healthy. It provides many benefits for the development of your body. That’s why epigenetics is also investigating the influence of sport on health.


What is epigenetics?

Epigenetics is a field of biology that investigates how external factors influence the activity and function of genes without changing the DNA sequence. The focus is on gene expression, i.e. the question of how genes are switched on or off. Unlike mutations, which directly change the DNA sequence, epigenetic mechanisms act without modifying the genetic information itself.

Environmental factors play a major role in this. Nutrition, stress, pollution and other environmental factors can bring about epigenetic changes that have a lasting impact on gene expression. Research in the field of epigenetics is leading to new approaches for the treatment and prevention of diseases.


By understanding individual epigenetic patterns, treatments can be better adapted to a patient’s needs. However, personalised medicine for each and every one of us is still wishful thinking for the future.


How are sport and epigenetics related?

Epigenetics is concerned with how environmental factors can influence our genes without changing the DNA itself – and what impacts this can have on our health. Sport plays a key role in this.


In this regard, research is looking at why some people benefit more from physical exercise than others. That applies to both professional and rehabilitation sport.


There are various hypotheses that can explain this fact: one of which is that epigenetic differences are at least partly responsible for this. Further findings could, for example, be used to better match training programmes to individual needs and genetic profiles. This could lead to effective results in the future.


It is also well know that regular exercis has a positive effect on cardiac health and the metabolism. A link to epigenetics can also be established here.

By influencing biological processes in the body, sporting activity causes epigenetic changes. A classic example is muscle growth and an improvement in muscle performance.


It is, however, important to consider overall lifestyle. Exercise, nutrition, sleep and stress resistance are four of the most important factors that determine whether a person remains healthy.


Then there are other things such as social relationships – and, of course, a person’s genes and DNA. All these aspects ultimately interact and should be taken into account by science.


Hiking and biking to a positive body awareness.

Sport is part of a healthy lifestyle. Everyone has different preferences. Some people like swimming, others like to go jogging or walking. There are also various group sport that can help you keep fit. Around the Bad Kleinkirchheimer Bergbahnen, hiking and biking are among visitors’ favourite activities – both can be done on numerous trails while you enjoy the beauty of the Nockberge Mountains.

They also offer plenty of benefits for body and soul:


  • On the one hand, hiking and biking are good for physical health because they strengthen the cardiovascular system.
  • At the same time, you train different muscle groups with these activities: hiking mainly strengthens the legs and torso, while biking can strengthen the knee joints, for example.
  • Moreover, both kinds of sport are effective methods for burning calories, which helps you control and lose weight. They also promote muscle growth, which increases energy consumption.
  • Depending on your fitness level and objectives, you can seek out suitable hiking or bike trail routes. You’ll also get to know the area, while doing something good for your health at the same time.
  • By reducing stress and promoting the release of mood-enhancing endorphins, hiking and biking are also good for the mind. You’re out in the fresh air, enjoying the mountain weather and simply switching off your mind and negative thoughts for a while.
  • Alone or in company – both sport can be a lot of fun. What about going on a family hike? In this case, you’re best to look for an easy route that everyone can manage.
  • That avoids frustration: if you’re one of the hiking types who want to aim high, you can set yourself an ambitious goal on your own or with like-minded people. 

By the way:
compared to high-intensity sports, hiking and biking are gentle on the joints and have a somewhat low risk of injury, as long as you respect your own limits and don’t overestimate your capabilities. As they don’t require any expensive equipment, you can get started straight away. Comfy shoes for hiking or a (rented) bicycle for biking are enough.


Use the positive effects of nature.

Have you exhausted yourself? Do you need a break? If so, then nature offers a wealth of possibilities. In addition to biking and hiking, why not try yoga, for example?


Doing yoga outdoors gives you the possibility to combine physical exercise with mindfulness practices. This allows you to make a deeper connection with your surroundings and open your senses to the natural beauty around you. Which in turn can lead to greater serenity.

Being in nature is generally good for your body. The mountain air provides a rich source of fresh oxygen, which can improve the supply of oxygen to the body. Perhaps you’ve already experienced that feeling of being motivated after going for a walk. Even when everything gets too much, a trip into nature can clear your thoughts again.


It’s also important for your health to get all the vitamins and minerals you required as part of a balanced diet.


One substance plays a special role in this: vitamin D. Your body needs sunshine to produce vitamin D. As the sun is more intense in the mountains, it is easier to raise your vitamin D levels.

However, take care not to spend too long in the sun and use adequate sun protection. A hat and sunscreen prevent skin damage caused by sunburn.


You should also wear sunglasses. Then nothing will stand in the way of your holiday in nature and you can try to positively influence your epigenetics with sport to stay fit and healthy long into the future.


There are more interesting facts about epigenetics at:
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