A gene for aerobic capacity

As well as being a marker for good health, having a high aerobic capacity enables your body to work harder during prolonged exercise. Some of us are lucky enough to have a naturally high aerobic capacity due to our genes. A variation in the PGC1A gene is associated with greater baseline aerobic fitness. Your FitnessGenes result tells you which version of this gene you have and how it affects you.

The PGC1A gene produces a protein which is important for cellular respiration. Essentially, it plays a role in control of the metabolic pathway that we use for fuel when we do aerobic exercise. The main effects of the PGC1A gene include:

  • How much PGC1A protein and the hormone irisin you produce
  • How much slow-twitch muscle you have
  • Your aerobic capacity
  • Your susceptibility to oxidative damage and inflammation
One particular DNA variation in this gene has been linked to aerobic capacity in a wide range of different studies. The G allele of PGC1A is linked to higher baseline levels of the PGC1A protein on average and tends to be found at higher frequencies among elite-level endurance athletes than the alternative S allele.

You can find more information about the PGC1A gene in our member area at where you can also find your results and what this means for you after your DNA has been analyzed by us. Head over to the shop to order your Fitnessgenes DNA analysis and genetic training system


We have fully reviewed the impact of this gene and the genetic variant we analyse as part of our scientific research process. You can access the full citation list on all studies reviewed here.

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