Once again, science has proven something we knew in our nonresponsive hearts to be true, and once again, that science has proven to be a bummer. A dumber bummer. The New York Times has a habit of writing about scientific studies whose sole revelation is that such a breathtakingly pointless investigation received funding.

This time, The Times discussed new data that was added to a groaning server-full confirming that some people respond to working out more than others, and that’s because of genetics. A human study and a rat study were cited. In the first, researchers made 95 old, fat people do either aerobic exercise or weight training, and after several weeks of this, average aerobic capacity improved by 8 percent, but bummer, 13 percent of those doing endurance exercise actually lost aerobic fitness, and big bummer, 30 percent of those doing weight training actually got weaker. Ouch, little close to the bone on that one.

The rats really got a raw deal. First, they were bred like animals, and that might have been the most fun they had, because the lab coat people were out to create either super responders (a speeded up version of East Africa) or super sloths (a speeded up version of Wal Mart). Then, insensitively, they humiliated the terminally unfit rats by comparing them to the Rift Valley rats via treadmill test, and unsurprisingly, guess who improved by 40 percent? Yeah well, the bragging/humiliation didn’t last long because very soon scientists were looking at heart muscles, not rats. Putting a nice sharp point on the whole episode, scientists noted that even though the Wal Mart rats had to suffer the indignity and tedium of the tiny rodent treadmill (my god, what’s next? Rope climbing? Dodgeball?), their heart muscles looked like they’d sat on the couch, remote in paw. Which, you can be sure, they would have much preferred, since everyone knew how this was going to come out anyway.

And blah-de-blah-de-blah, six kinds of genes are responsible for the awesome or unfortunate response to working out, and maybe some other shit factored in too. We knew that already. Super responders don’t need to be told twice to breed, breed, breed—they’re managing just fine, impressing the hell out of each other. But what about the perma-weak and slow? What faint ray of hope, after eons of unrewarded toil, does science offer them?

“If after months of training, someone is not able to run any farther than he or she could before, maybe it is time to change the intensity or frequency of the workouts or try something else, like weight training,” said the white-coated sadist mofos, snickering behind their clipboards.


I have a very good friend who is workout-resistant, and she has this unscientific advice: Don’t run on a treadmill; don’t wear a watch; breed with whoever you like, but not scientists. It’s good for the ticker.

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