FINALLY, AN EXCUSE FOR BEING A COUCH POTATO -- GENETICS

Published on: November 17, 2003

Some people are born to be couch potatoes. New medical studies show that a variation in genetic makeup destines some of us to be less active than the majority of the population.

Natural-born couch potatoes average just 1,500 to 3,000 steps a day -- far short of the 10,000 steps recommended for active people, said Dr. Pamela Peeke, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland.

"I call that one step over coma," she said.

Doctors are now attempting to remedy ailments such as high blood pressure by tailoring exercise and diet programs to patients' genetically determined activity levels.

"If you have a really bad biological predisposition to be inactive, the physicians won't waste too much time trying to activate you," said Dr. Tuomo Rankinen, assistant professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La.

"Instead, they will try to find other ways to control health risks, such as diet or medication."