What keeps a body moving? The brain-derived neurotrophic factor val66met polymorphism and intrinsic motivation to exercise in humans
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Individuals who are intrinsically motivated to exercise are more likely to do so consistently. In previous research, those with at least one copy of the methionine (met) allele in the brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene (BDNF; rs6265) had greater increases in positive mood and lower perceived exertion during exercise. This study examined whether genotype for BDNF is also related to intrinsic motivation, measured by self-report during a treadmill exercise session and a free-choice behavioral measure (continuing to exercise given the option to stop) among 89 regular exercisers (age M = 23.58, SD = 3.95). Those with at least one copy of the met allele reported greater increases in intrinsic motivation during exercise and were more likely to continue exercising when given the option to stop (55 vs. 33 %). Results suggest that underlying genetic factors may partially influence perceptions of inherent rewards associated with exercise and might inform the development of individually targeted interventions.
KeywordsBDNF val66met polymorphism Genetics Intrinsic motivation Exercise Humans
We would like to K. Hutchison and his lab at the Mind Research Network for conducting the DNA assays. We would like to thank S. Gangestad for help with the study design, P. Hooper for input and revisions on previous versions of the manuscript, our participants, and T. Callahan, K. Wong, P. Onuska, and J. Halvaei, and the staff of New Heart for help with data collection.
Conflict of interest
Authors Ann E. Caldwell Hooper, Angela D. Bryan and Martin S. Hagger declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
All procedures followed were in accordance with ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.
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