Science

Are ‘miracle pills’ the future of exercising?

Scientists are developing a pill to mimic the benefits of exercise

Exercise pills that improve blood circulation and muscle resistance are being developed with success reported across the globe.

The compounds of these new pills copy molecular-level muscle reactions that replace workouts. This is done by boosting the number of mitochondria in the body, which are responsible for producing the energy a cell can use. Thus, this means having more energy to spend, increasing the body’s endurance to exercise.

These discoveries are the outcome of a global effort by teams from Australia, Canada and China. Results recently published in leading science journals, Trends in Pharmacological Sciences and Cell Metabolism, further suggest the pills have potential as they have worked in lab testing with mice.

Ismail Laher, a member of the Canadian research team, explains to Time Magazine that: “They’ll [the pills] let you get muscles that are stronger and faster and reach your exercise goals much quicker.” In other words, the pills can help people get better at exercising, but cannot replace it.

Laher compares the exercise pill to a vitamin supplement by explaining that while these are good, the benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables are greater.

However a researcher of the Australian team, Nolan Hoffman, told Quartz that the exercise ‘blueprint’ they have developed “lays the foundation for future treatments, and the end goal is to mimic the effects of exercise”.

Scientists insist the pill is not a dietary supplement and can be used as a serious medical tool. The team from University of Sydney claim that the pills have potential as exercise can help fight many diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

These pills could also help amputees, stroke victims or others who cannot move in an intensive way due to any type of sickness or paralysis. In a press release from the University of Sydney, it is stated that “for many people, exercise isn’t a viable treatment option. This means it is essential we find ways of developing drugs that mimic the benefits of exercise.”

Despite the media frenzy, the “miracle capsules” are still not available on the market. An opinion article by Dr. David Samadi, a health specialist for the Daily News, warns people that these pills might be promoting a bad attitude about exercise by trying to put people off the gym. According to him, exercise does not only build endurance, but can ‘sharpen focus and lift spirits’.

Dr Layer, from The University of Sydney, confirms the pills do not intend to create magical weight loss: “It is unrealistic to expect that exercise pills will fully be able to substitute for physical exercise. It’s not going to make a couch potato into Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

The bottom line seems to be that these pills are now more than science-fiction. While they might not boost weight-loss miraculously, initial testing has showed that they can improve people’s fitness level and might be useful for those who cannot exercise due to medical reasons.

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