The Exercise Pill
Posted by shadmia on August 5, 2008
Ever feel lethargic, lazy or listless? Are you overweight? Are you a couch potato? Does taking the garbage out leave you breathless? Well, you know that a good exercise regime, 2 or 3 times a week, could give you back that pep in your step and get you feeling young and energetic again……or you could just take a pill and forget about all that sweat and exertion.
Scientists have developed a drug that gives you all the benefits of exercise without getting all sweaty…..if you are a mouse!
Sedentary mice that took the drug for four weeks burned more calories and had less fat than untreated mice. And when tested on a treadmill, they could run about 44 percent farther and 23 percent longer than untreated mice.
“We have exercise in a pill,” said Ron Evans of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., and an author of the study. “With no exercise, you can take a drug and chemically mimic it.”
Scientists are also looking at another drug that has similar benefits for mice who exercised. This second drug made their workout much more effective at boosting endurance.
After a month of taking that drug and exercising, mice could run 68 percent longer and 70 percent farther than other mice that exercised but didn’t get the drug.
The first, no-exercise, drug is is called AICAR and is in advanced human testing to see if it can prevent a complication of heart bypass surgery. But, noting that this drug might be used by athletes looking for an unfair advantage, Evans said his team has developed detection tests for use by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Nevertheless, experts who study muscles agree that a drug like AICAR may prove useful someday in treating obesity and diabetes. AICAR stimulates muscles to remove sugar from the blood. People who can’t exercise because of a medical condition like joint pain or heart failure might also benefit from such a drug.
This drug is still in the experimental stage and scientists are amazed that it even works. According to Ron Evans who performed the experiments on the mice at the suggestion of another scientist:
“Honestly, I just don’t know how that happens. Whether it would happen in a person, I don’t know. I think it’s a small miracle it happened at all.”
Even if the pill proved to be safe for people to take, it may not provide the same benefits as in mice. Laurie Goodyear of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston said exercise has such widespread benefits in the body that she doubts any one pill will ever be able to supply all of them.
“For the majority of people,” she said, “it would be better to do exercise than to take a pill.”