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Ildus I. Ahmetov, Olga L. Vinogradova, and Alun G. Williams

The ability to perform aerobic or anaerobic exercise varies widely among individuals, partially depending on their muscle-fiber composition. Variability in the proportion of skeletal-muscle fiber types may also explain marked differences in aspects of certain chronic disease states including obesity, insulin resistance, and hypertension. In untrained individuals, the proportion of slow-twitch (Type I) fibers in the vastus lateralis muscle is typically around 50% (range 5–90%), and it is unusual for them to undergo conversion to fast-twitch fibers. It has been suggested that the genetic component for the observed variability in the proportion of Type I fibers in human muscles is on the order of 40–50%, indicating that muscle fiber-type composition is determined by both genotype and environment. This article briefly reviews current progress in the understanding of genetic determinism of fiber-type proportion in human skeletal muscle. Several polymorphisms of genes involved in the calcineurin–NFAT pathway, mitochondrial biogenesis, glucose and lipid metabolism, cytoskeletal function, hypoxia and angiogenesis, and circulatory homeostasis have been associated with fiber-type composition. As muscle is a major contributor to metabolism and physical strength and can readily adapt, it is not surprising that many of these gene variants have been associated with physical performance and athlete status, as well as metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. Genetic variants associated with fiber-type proportions have important implications for our understanding of muscle function in both health and disease.

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Alun Williams, Lucy Whitman, Yve Le Page, Colin Le Page, Graham Chester, and Simon J. Sebire

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Elliott C.R. Hall, Sandro S. Almeida, Shane M. Heffernan, Sarah J. Lockey, Adam J. Herbert, Peter Callus, Stephen H. Day, Charles R. Pedlar, Courtney Kipps, Malcolm Collins, Yannis P. Pitsiladis, Mark A. Bennett, Liam P. Kilduff, Georgina K. Stebbings, Robert M. Erskine, and Alun G. Williams

Purpose: Genetic polymorphisms have been associated with the adaptation to training in maximal oxygen uptake (V˙O2max). However, the genotype distribution of selected polymorphisms in athletic cohorts is unknown, with their influence on performance characteristics also undetermined. This study investigated whether the genotype distributions of 3 polymorphisms previously associated with V˙O2max training adaptation are associated with elite athlete status and performance characteristics in runners and rugby athletes, competitors for whom aerobic metabolism is important. Methods: Genomic DNA was collected from 732 men including 165 long-distance runners, 212 elite rugby union athletes, and 355 nonathletes. Genotype and allele frequencies of PRDM1 rs10499043 C/T, GRIN3A rs1535628 G/A, and KCNH8 rs4973706 T/C were compared between athletes and nonathletes. Personal-best marathon times in runners, as well as in-game performance variables and playing position, of rugby athletes were analyzed according to genotype. Results: Runners with PRDM1 T alleles recorded marathon times ∼3 minutes faster than CC homozygotes (02:27:55 [00:07:32] h vs 02:31:03 [00:08:24] h, P = .023). Rugby athletes had 1.57 times greater odds of possessing the KCNH8 TT genotype than nonathletes (65.5% vs 54.7%, χ 2 = 6.494, P = .013). No other associations were identified. Conclusions: This study is the first to demonstrate that polymorphisms previously associated with V˙O2max training adaptations in nonathletes are also associated with marathon performance (PRDM1) and elite rugby union status (KCNH8). The genotypes and alleles previously associated with superior endurance-training adaptation appear to be advantageous in long-distance running and achieving elite status in rugby union.

Open access

Salomé Aubert, Joel D. Barnes, Nicolas Aguilar-Farias, Greet Cardon, Chen-Kang Chang, Christine Delisle Nyström, Yolanda Demetriou, Lowri Edwards, Arunas Emeljanovas, Aleš Gába, Wendy Y. Huang, Izzeldin A.E. Ibrahim, Jaak Jürimäe, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, Agata Korcz, Yeon Soo Kim, Eun-Young Lee, Marie Löf, Tom Loney, Shawnda A. Morrison, Jorge Mota, John J. Reilly, Blanca Roman-Viñas, Natasha Schranz, John Scriven, Jan Seghers, Thomas Skovgaard, Melody Smith, Martyn Standage, Gregor Starc, Gareth Stratton, Tim Takken, Tuija Tammelin, Chiaki Tanaka, David Thivel, Richard Tyler, Alun Williams, Stephen H.S. Wong, Paweł Zembura, and Mark S. Tremblay

Background: To better understand the childhood physical inactivity crisis, Report Cards on physical activity of children and youth were prepared concurrently in 30 very high Human Development Index countries. The aim of this article was to present, describe, and compare the findings from these Report Cards. Methods: The Report Cards were developed using a harmonized process for data gathering, assessing, and assigning grades to 10 common physical activity indicators. Descriptive statistics were calculated after converting letter grades to interval variables, and correlational analyses between the 10 common indicators were performed using Spearman’s rank correlation coefficients. Results: A matrix of 300 grades was obtained with substantial variations within and between countries. Low grades were observed for behavioral indicators, and higher grades were observed for sources of influence indicators, indicating a disconnect between supports and desired behaviors. Conclusion: This analysis summarizes the level and context of the physical activity of children and youth among very high Human Development Index countries, and provides additional evidence that the situation regarding physical activity in children and youth is very concerning. Unless a major shift to a more active lifestyle happens soon, a high rate of noncommunicable diseases can be anticipated when this generation of children reaches adulthood.

Open access

Salomé Aubert, Joel D. Barnes, Chalchisa Abdeta, Patrick Abi Nader, Ade F. Adeniyi, Nicolas Aguilar-Farias, Dolores S. Andrade Tenesaca, Jasmin Bhawra, Javier Brazo-Sayavera, Greet Cardon, Chen-Kang Chang, Christine Delisle Nyström, Yolanda Demetriou, Catherine E. Draper, Lowri Edwards, Arunas Emeljanovas, Aleš Gába, Karla I. Galaviz, Silvia A. González, Marianella Herrera-Cuenca, Wendy Y. Huang, Izzeldin A.E. Ibrahim, Jaak Jürimäe, Katariina Kämppi, Tarun R. Katapally, Piyawat Katewongsa, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, Asaduzzaman Khan, Agata Korcz, Yeon Soo Kim, Estelle Lambert, Eun-Young Lee, Marie Löf, Tom Loney, Juan López-Taylor, Yang Liu, Daga Makaza, Taru Manyanga, Bilyana Mileva, Shawnda A. Morrison, Jorge Mota, Vida K. Nyawornota, Reginald Ocansey, John J. Reilly, Blanca Roman-Viñas, Diego Augusto Santos Silva, Pairoj Saonuam, John Scriven, Jan Seghers, Natasha Schranz, Thomas Skovgaard, Melody Smith, Martyn Standage, Gregor Starc, Gareth Stratton, Narayan Subedi, Tim Takken, Tuija Tammelin, Chiaki Tanaka, David Thivel, Dawn Tladi, Richard Tyler, Riaz Uddin, Alun Williams, Stephen H.S. Wong, Ching-Lin Wu, Paweł Zembura, and Mark S. Tremblay

Background: Accumulating sufficient moderate to vigorous physical activity is recognized as a key determinant of physical, physiological, developmental, mental, cognitive, and social health among children and youth (aged 5–17 y). The Global Matrix 3.0 of Report Card grades on physical activity was developed to achieve a better understanding of the global variation in child and youth physical activity and associated supports. Methods: Work groups from 49 countries followed harmonized procedures to develop their Report Cards by grading 10 common indicators using the best available data. The participating countries were divided into 3 categories using the United Nations’ human development index (HDI) classification (low or medium, high, and very high HDI). Results: A total of 490 grades, including 369 letter grades and 121 incomplete grades, were assigned by the 49 work groups. Overall, an average grade of “C-,” “D+,” and “C-” was obtained for the low and medium HDI countries, high HDI countries, and very high HDI countries, respectively. Conclusions: The present study provides rich new evidence showing that the situation regarding the physical activity of children and youth is a concern worldwide. Strategic public investments to implement effective interventions to increase physical activity opportunities are needed.