Get All the Remarkable Benefits of Exercise From…a Pill?

Benefits of Exercise

Astonishing breakthrough research from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre has revealed over 1,000 changes muscles undergo on a molecular level during exercise. Using this research, scientists will have a “blueprint” that shows them how to go about making a drug that might be able to imitate the benefits of exercise.

Although it sounds like science fiction, it looks like at some point in the near future, you might be able to take a pill that would get you in tip top shape without having to lift a finger. The study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism this month, explains how researchers from the University of Sydney and University of Copenhagen examined biopsies from human skeletal muscle after 10 minutes of high intensity exercise. The University of Sydney’s website says, “Using a technique known as mass spectrometry to study a process called protein phosphorylation, co-author [of the study] Dr. Benjamin Parker discovered that short, intensive exercise triggers more than 1000 changes.”

Co-author Dr. Nolan Hoffman told the University that “exercise produces an extremely complex, cascading set of responses within human muscle. It plays an essential role in controlling energy metabolism and insulin sensitivity.”

Many of the previously documented molecular changes that occur in our muscles after a workout hadn’t been linked to exercise, and older research had only focused on a few of the known molecular changes. This prompted scientists to develop drugs that only targeted single molecules, which didn’t work well. Kind of like trying to take a shower with an eye-dropper. Now the researchers understand that any “exercise drug” they create will need to be able to prompt all 1004 molecular changes. Professor David James, head of the Sydney research group explained to the University, “With this exercise blueprint we have proven that any drug that mimics exercise will need to target multiple molecules and possibly even pathways, which are a combination of molecules working together. We believe this is the key to unlocking the riddle of drug treatments to mimic exercise.”

Although it’s unclear if this new drug would provide some of the more popular benefits of exercise, like weight loss, a more youthful appearance, toned muscles, and that fabulous feeling you get after a crazy-intense spinning class, the researchers do expect the drug to be able to help people who suffer from type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neurological disorders. The new drug would be particularly helpful to people who suffer from these types of diseases who, for whatever reason, aren’t able to exercise regularly.

It’s hard to believe that popping a pill would give you the strength and glow that a regular exercise routine does, but who knows what the future has in store for us? What do you think? No pain no gain? Or would you take a pill if it gave you all of the fabulous benefits of exercise?

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