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An individual's athletic ability is determined by genetic factors (Hereditary characteristics) and environmental factors. A person's environment and genes also affect each other. Therefore, it can be difficult to distinguish between environmental factors and genetic characteristics that affect athletic and/or sports performance. It has been revealed that genetic characteristics are effective at a rate of 30% to 80% in athletic performance differences between people. Genetic traits refer to the DNA sequences that make up an individual's physical characteristics, such as muscle type, bone structure, and cardiovascular capacity. These genetic traits can influence an individual's sports performance and athletic performance potential, even susceptibility to an injury.  

Environmental factors that affect athletic ability include; nutrition, family and trainers, continuous training, economic conditions, the age of his peers, muscle mass index, the highest oxygen level that the body can give to the tissues, flexibility, height, coordination and intellectual ability.

Can a person's muscle structure be determined genetically?

There are 3 types of muscle in our body: skeletal muscle, smooth muscle and cardiac muscle. The skeletal muscles we use for movement are striated muscles, which are composed of slow-twitch fibers and fast-twitch fibers. If the person has a predominantly slow-twitch muscle type, they can use their muscles for a long time without getting tired. People with slow-twitch muscle type can do sports that require endurance such as long-distance running and bicycle race. People with fast-twitch muscle types may be more successful in sprinting or power sports.

Genetic studies have investigated the relationship between the ACTN3 and ACE genes and muscle structure (and athletic performance). The ACTN3 gene produces a protein called alpha-actinin-3, which is found in fast-twitch muscle fibers. A change in this gene (R577X) has been found to decrease fast twitch muscle fibers and increase slow twitch muscle fibers in the body. Therefore, it can be predicted that people carrying this change in both ACTN3 genes (homozygous) may have durable muscle fibers that can work for a long time without getting tired. This change, which is found at a rate of about 55% in the European society, is found at a rate of about 82% in the African community. While not as effective on their own, genetic changes like this one often come to mind, "Why do the best marathon runners come from East Africa?" provided an explanation for the question. However, there are also studies that do not support these findings. It can be predicted that people with no changes in both ACTN3 genes (577RR) may be more successful in sports that require speed and power, such as short distance running.

The ACE gene is responsible for the production of an enzyme that produces the hormone Angiotensin II, which controls blood pressure. A change (Insertion/Deletion) in the ACE gene changes the activity of the gene (hence the enzyme). People with a Deletion polymorphism (DD) in both ACE genes have twice as much of the hormone Angiotensin II and is thought to be associated with a higher rate of fast-twitch muscle fibers and higher velocity.

There are many more genes with different functions associated with athletic performance. Some are involved in the function of skeletal muscles, while others are involved in energy production for cells, communication between nerve cells, or other cellular processes. Presumably, each of these genes contribute somewhat to athletic performance. 

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Last Update: 2023-04-13 15:28:34