[NFL quarterback Tom Brady’s] age-39 season was statistically among the best of his 17-year career with the New England Patriots…What’s maybe most remarkable about his 2016 performance is that it came at an age by which many other luminaries of the position…had already retired.
Brady’s DNA does enable him to be bigger and faster and stronger than many of us…But it’s not one or even a few dozen specific genes that help him with that. Instead, hundreds, if not thousands, of genes…determine features like body composition…Simply put, Brady likely doesn’t have a superhuman mutation tucked into his genetic code.
Some scientists are focused on studying the connection between genes and injury risk, while others think that perhaps the intense training elite athletes go through can kick dormant genes into high gear. “Certain types of training seem to activate genes that everyone has that will change muscular structure, even blood vessels,” said K. Anders Ericsson, a psychology professor at Florida State University. “There’s even compelling evidence that the heart will adapt to these kind of training conditions.”
It’s also possible that Brady’s genetics could explain in part why he has been able to play nearly into his fifth decade. Just as a healthy lifestyle can keep one’s “fitness age” below biological age, some experts believe people have internal aging clocks that tick away at different speeds.
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