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Exercise of the Future: Could a Hormone Pill Replace the Gym?


What's easier than dieting, less strenuous than exercising and helps you lose weight? A research team from Harvard Medical School claims it's a pill that contains a hormone that could have the same effect on your body as exercise… without the workout. Really.

The study, titled "A PGC1-α-dependent myokine that drives brown-fat-like development of white fat and thermogenesis" is published in the current issue of the journal Nature and identifies a new hormone called irisin (named after the Greek goddess Iris), which increases throughout the body when engaged in physical activity, boosting energy and balancing blood glucose levels. It also aids in the production of a healthy fat that decreases as we age. Called 'brown fat', it aids in burning off excess waistline weight and preventing diabetes. Too much belly fat—a common occurrence in both men and women—has been linked to an increased risk for developing heart disease and type II diabetes.

The research team found that exposure to irisin could have powerful effects on reducing or transmuting adipose—the accumulated white fat that collects calories and leads to obesity. While the study showed no signs of toxicity or adverse reactions to irisin supplementation, the research team doesn't advise using hormones as a replacement for exercise. Irisin does not appear to improve muscle strength or tone, and a healthy diet is still critical for a healthy body. But, the findings do offer some potential for individuals battling obesity, diabetes and other illnesses or injuries that make exercising unrealistic.

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