Scientists might someday be able to develop a pill that would allow people to receive the benefits of exercising without having to actually exercise. The news comes as researchers are continuing to make progress in identifying the molecular processes that occur when people exercise.
Scientists at the University of Sydney in Australia recently had a breakthrough when studying molecular processes. Their study involved having men engage in high-intensity exercise for a duration of ten minutes. The men were then analyzed to see how the exercise affected the activity of the proteins in their bodies.
The scientists found that about 1,000 different molecular changes occur in the muscles that are activated during rigorous activity. While it’s only an initial study, it did offer scientists the first real comprehensive map of the process of exercising.
However the process of creating a pill to simulate all the cellular activity of exercising is a very complicated task. Most drugs simply target individual molecules of the body. In order to create an all-in-one “exercise pill”, entire pathways of molecules would have to be affected. Plus, natural exercise sets off extremely complex responses in muscles that would be hard to mimic using medication.
Another part of the development of such a pill would involve being able to “trick” body cells into thinking that they are being used when they are actually stagnant. Without that ability, an “exercise pill” wouldn’t function properly.
Additionally, scientists don’t believe that they could create a pill that could make bones stronger, speed up blood flow or increase one’s heart rate like natural exercise can.
While the pill, if even possible, is still just a pipedream at this point, it could be extremely beneficial for people who simply cannot exercise, such as victims of stroke or spinal cord injuries.
Of course, it would also be useful for those who don’t want to get up off of the couch.