You know the importance of customizing your workout to your fitness level and, if you’re a fitness buff, you’ve probably even taken a quiz or two that promises to help you find the perfect sweat session based on your personality, or even your astrology sign. But what about customizing your workout to your DNA—to the very essence of your genetic makeup?
That’s the premise behind The Blood Type Workout, a new fitness program that promises fast, long-lasting results by following the workout plan and diet best suited for your blood type. “The blood type is a powerful genetic fingerprint, and there is a chemical reaction to the food you eat, your workouts, and your blood,” says Joseph Christiano, a naturopathic doctor, author of Blood Types, Body Types, and You, and co-creator of The Blood Type Workout. “When you follow a generic program that is one-size-fits-all, you’re never going to tap into your genetic potential.”
I, a workout junkie (and a quiz-loving Pisces with type-A tendencies, in case you’re wondering) was of course intrigued by the idea. But could it really be true? I was skeptical, to the say the least, when I first agreed to check out the program, which includes three different workout DVDs for each blood type and detailed information on which foods you should and shouldn’t eat for your blood type. (Check Your Daily Health and Wellness Horoscope here!)
However, after figuring out my blood type—using a nifty little at-home blood typing kit that comes as part of The Blood Type Workout—I was surprised. As a type O, they seemed to have me pegged.
So, how does it work, and where do you fit in? According to Dr. Christiano, here are the four classifications:
Your genetic makeup most closely resembles the cavemen and women who spent their days hunting and defending themselves against predators.
Best workouts: You tend to be strong and athletic—gotta love those powerful arms and legs—and, because you’re no longer chasing your meals, crave high-intensity workouts like interval training, running, and plyometrics. You use exercise as an emotional outlet, and need it more than other blood type to fight stress and anxiety and boost your mood.
Best diet: You do best by avoiding a lot of processed carbs and dairy—basically, very similar to eating Paleo. (Should you eat like a caveman? Check out The Paleo Diet 101.)
Your DNA resembles that of ancient farmers, and though they were active, they spent their days doing slower, less intense activities like planting crops.
Best workouts: Intense exercise increases your levels of the stress hormone cortisol and leads to muscle fatigue and stiffness. You do best by opting for calming activities that help you focus and protect your joints, like Pilates, yoga, Tai Chi, and isometric exercises.
Best diet: You should aim to eat close to a vegetarian diet, filling your plate with fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, and fish. (Need veggie ideas? Try these 11 Flat Belly Meatless Meals.)
Your ancestors were nomads, so while they moved often, it was at a less frenzied pace than those caveman types. They also traveled in packs.
Best workouts: You’ll enjoy group cardio workouts that are slightly lower impact, like tennis or cycling, as well as resistance training. (Find your perfect workout with 8 Low-Impact Workouts With Big Calorie Burn.)
Best diet: You’re one of the few blood types that can still eat dairy. You also do well with meat, and fresh fruits and veggies.
Your DNA is a hybrid—you have elements of Type A and B.
Best workouts: You tend to get muscle and joint stiffness from high-power cardio sessions, so you’ll be more apt to stick with gentle exercise, like walking, hiking, golf, or dance. However, you also tend to internalize anger, so yoga and Tai Chi can be helpful for keeping your mood level, and your muscles and joints limber. (New to Tai Chi? Here are 3 ways to try it.)
Diet: In addition to eating fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains, you’ll lose more weight by cutting back on red meat but adding dairy.
While I feel that the Type O prescription fits me pretty much to a T—if I don’t get enough high-intensity cardio or power yoga I morph into a cranky, unpleasant stress ball, and I feel best and stay at my happy weight when I eat a lower-carb, higher-protein diet—my coworker, a Type B who regularly craves high-intensity cardio, didn’t feel like her prescription was as strong a match.
The creators of The Blood Type Workout say that while there hasn’t been a full clinical study to back up the claims, they feel that the success that many people have had on the program shows its validity. (Check out a few testimonials here.)
While you could easily see great results with this plan—any fitness program that inspires you to get off the couch, work out regularly, and eat healthier is a plus—you shouldn’t stop doing types of exercise you enjoy or have seen results with just because it may not be a perfect match with your blood type. “It could discourage some people from doing activities that are actually very important for their health and completely within their exercise abilities,” says Wayne Westcott, PhD, Prevention fitness advisor and fitness research director at Quincy College.
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