An Exercise Pill in the Making

Thursday, February 18, 2016
An Exercise Pill in the Making

Being healthy and fit is great, but finding the motivation to get on a bike or go to gym continues to be a hassle to many of us.  According to two new research articles published in the journal Cell Metabolism and the journal Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, scientists have recently been trying to develop a pill known as the “exercise pill” which mimics the effects of working out – without the sweat.


The benefits of physical activity on the brain and body are many. It reduces weight gain, strengthens your bones and muscles, reduces your risk of heart disease and diabetes, increases the chance of living longer, and improves your mood and overall health.


So what if some of the benefits of exercise could be packed into a pill? It sounds too good to be true, and for now, it is.  Here is how it works:


After three years of intensive research, scientists were able to create a blueprint of the molecular-level muscle reactions to exercise. They found that about 1000 different molecular changes occur in the body upon physical exertion. While exercising, your body develops new blood vessels and forms new mitochondria needed to generate energy in the cells. This causes your muscles to get stronger and allows you to reach your exercise goals faster.


The main goal of this research was to identify the most important changes that occur while exercising so that it could be replicated using a pill. Another potential aspect of the exercise pill is that it may contain a natural hormone found in the muscle called irisin. Irisin helps your body burn more calories and produces more “brown fat,” the good type of fat that aids in weight loss. When exercising, the body produces more irisin, increasing heat production in the body. Therefore, incorporating irisin into the pill might help increase your overall metabolism.


It’s highly important to understand that this pill will not benefit your body the same way exercise does. Taking an exercise pill could be greatly impactful for people who can't exercise, like those with chronic diseases, injuries, and other conditions. However, it’s definitely not your ultimate solution to building muscles. Keep in mind that exercise does not only carry physical benefits required for muscle building and weight loss, but it also improves your mental status, which this pill will not be able to offer.


So don’t get rid of your gym membership just yet! Scientists believe that it might take at least a decade to be able to produce this magical pill. Even though this is just one piece of the puzzle, these findings lay the foundation for future treatments. It might sound like a gift to the lazy, but such treatment might transform the lives of those who cannot exercise.


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