Our genetic material (a.k.a genomes), fitness levels and lifestyle choices all affect our overall health so I jumped at the chance of being checked out (for free) in the Genofit Research Study at the UCD Institute of Sport & Health.
Organised by Genomics Medicine Ireland, the study aims to identify genomic changes in the Irish population that contribute to healthy ageing, fitness and well-being. The information will also be used for comparison in other health-related studies undertaken by GMI to identify genomic changes that cause or contribute to a wide range of diseases.
The whole exercise took an hour and a quarter and was simple enough. It started with taking a blood sample (although the testers initially had problems finding a vein!) then a finger prick to check on blood-sugar levels.
Next was a DEXA scan to determine quantitative measurements of:
- external and visceral body fat percentage
- bone mineral density, and
- muscle percentage
This was followed by measurements of height, weight, hip and waist circumference and blood pressure levels.
The penultimate check was a simple muscle strength test and, with a heart monitor attached to the wrist, a 15-minute fitness test on a stationary bike ergometer during which the resistance was increased three times (just to put you under a little pressure!).
The study ended with a health and lifestyle questionnaire (including family medical history), completed by ticking the appropriate answers on a tablet (taking about 15 minutes).
Volunteers do not receive any feedback on the genomic results; they enter a major database instead, and participants’ privacy is strictly observed. But I did gain a Health Report, which showed I scored very well on all tests such as:
- Body Mass Index – a measure of body fat based on height and weight for your gender. I came in the normal range.
- Waist-Hip Ratio – an indicator of a risk of lifestyle-related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes 2. I am in the reduced risk category.
- Physical Work Capacity – an indicator of aerobic fitness and I was rated as ‘good’, so walking and golf obviously is enough.
- Total Body Fat % – to my pleasant surprise, I came in ‘below average’.
- Visceral Fat – surrounds vital organs and an excess can lead to health-related conditions like heart disease etc. I scored well on this, too.
- Bone Mineral Density – shows the amount of mineral matter such as calcium and Vitamin D per square centimetre in your bones. My result surprised me as it showed that I was average based on my age. I had been told I was borderline osteopenia a few years ago.
GG undertook the test a week earlier and was happy enough with his results considering he had the most inactive year in his life in 2018 after his hip replacement and pacemaker fitting. He has only just crept into the ‘overweight’ category but will shake that off with more walking and golf and GENTLE NAGGING!
If you fancy volunteering, the Genofit team would be delighted to hear from you. You can book an appointment by calling 087-113 2875 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org