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Genetics of Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior Revealed

Using genome-wide association study (GWAS) data from people with a range of ancestries, an international research team had uncovered new details about the genetic variants that influence physical activity and sedentary behavior in daily life. Although biological factors are known to play a role in an individual's general activity level, the little is known about the molecular mechanisms involved. To investigate, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Uppsala University scientists and others combined data on 703,901 individuals from 51 studies in a multi-ancestry GWAS meta-analysis, identifying 104 independent association signals in 99 loci that associate with self-reported moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity during leisure time (MVPA), leisure screen time (LST), and/or sedentary behavior at work. Mendelian randomization analyses, meantime, show that beneficial effects of lower LST and higher MVPA on several risk factors and diseases are mediated or confounded by body mass index. The work, the study's authors write, "improve our understanding of the molecular basis of leisure time physical activity and sedentary behavior, and their role in disease prevention."