No one can say that exercise is bad for you. But the same is not always true for pills. Wait, what? Exercise and pills? What do they have to do with each other? For those of us who love being healthy yet hate any type of physical exertion, there might be a new solution: a pill that produces the same advantages that exercise does.
We all know the many benefits of exercise as purported over and over again by our doctors, our parents, and maybe even ourselves. Exercise reduces the chances of diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure. It leads to a better mood, leading to lower chances of depression, more energy, and countless more. A recent study even shows that exercise in adolescence can even reduce cancer risk in adult women. The benefits of exercise have been unparalleled by anything else. Except maybe now.
Image Source: Dave and Les Jacobs
Ismail Laher from the University of British Columbia says in the journal Trends in Pharmacological Sciences that it could be possible to create a pill that provides the same benefits as exercise. How does this work? Through molecular pathways. For example, exercising stimulates certain paths in the body that help in decreasing chances of obtaining diseases. The main goal of the pill is to target the same pathways.
Some pills that are currently in development include AICAR, which works by turning on the protein AMPK, which is involved in the body’s energy balance. Since AMPK interacts with the protein, PGC-1x, which is involved with mitochondria, this pill potentially can lead to “oxidative metabolism and… fiber-type transformation in skeletal muscle.” What does this mean? This pill can mimic the effects of exercising on the muscle, which might include making the muscle of the body in general look toner, leaner, firmer, as it does when you actually exercise.
Other pills similarly can be created to effect these pathways; however, much experimentation is still needed in order to gauge side effects and deal with potential issues such as misuse by athletes. Although these pills can be very useful, such as for people who are physically unable to exercise, they cannot fully replace the benefits of exercising like increased cognitive function and bone strength. So let’s see if these two incredibly different things can actually come together and see what changes it will bring to our community.
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