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Know Your Genes: BDNF “Exercise Motivation Gene”

The Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) gene is associated with the synthesis of brain derived neurotrophic factor, an enzyme that acts on the neurons of the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. This enzyme is shown to be associated with long term memory. In our panel, BDNF is used to understand the level of motivation towards exercise and in the tendency for weight regain.  

Association with Tendency to Regain Weight:

In a study conducted on 3899 overweight or obese individuals, people with the G variant were shown to be associated with a greater weight regain (0.77kg per risk allele).

In another study that analyzed 16 gene polymorphisms associated with weight maintenance, people with the G variant were found to be associated with greater weight regain after behavioural weight loss intervention strategy.

Association with Motivation to Exercise:

People with the G variant of the gene who are at a higher risk for weight regain are also shown to be associated with lower level of motivation to exercise (which could be the reason for the increased weight regain). It is important to identify the extent of intrinsic motivation to exercise as these people tend to be more consistent with their exercise regimes.

In a study conducted on people who exercised by running on the treadmill, an association was shown between the presence of the A variant of the gene and an increased motivation to exercise. Such people were more likely to continue to exercise even when they were asked to stop.







[Advantage] More likely to have higher motivation levels to exercise

[Advantage] More likely to have a lower risk for weight regain

  • Enjoy your work out and be consistent, this will help in better weight maintenance.
  • Though you have a higher intrinsic motivation level, there could be other factors like family pressures or work related stress which could be preventing you from working out.
  • It is important to include sufficient physical activity in your daily routine to maintain an ideal weight and lower the risk for diseases
AG Moderate motivation to exercise
  • Consciously stick to an appropriate exercise regime, once the results start showing, the motivation levels could increase
  • Alternate between exercise routines like a regular gym workout to a Zumba class, variety could help stay motivated
  • Play fun numbers or your favorite songs which will help make exercising a lot more enjoyable.  
  • Sticking to an exercise regime will help lower your risk for weight regain

[Limitation] More likely to lower motivation levels to exercise

[Limitation] More likely to have a higher risk for weight regain




Related Links:


Find out which variation of the gene you carry and more at

“Nutrigenetics, fitness genetics, health genetics are all nascent but rapidly growing areas within human genetics. The information provided herein is based on preliminary scientific studies and it is to be read and understood in that context.”


Xcode is a pioneer in personal genomics, focussed on enabling personalized preventive healthcare. We are dedicated to empowering physicians, wellness professionals and customers with the most validated, accurate and actionable genomic information to positively impact and improve their client’s health and quality of life.

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