Don’t Cancel Your Gym Membership Just Yet

The day is coming when the doors of fitness centers will be shuttered because people will no longer need to bother with exercise.  There will be a pill that you can take that will do the work for you.


If an exercise pill comes on the market will these days be over?

The closing of fitness centers because of the exercise pill might be an exaggeration but scientists are working on a compound that mimics the benefits of exercise and once it’s perfected it could take the place of your regular workout session.

The Exercise Pill

In a study from Scripps Institute in Jupiter, FL, overweight mice were injected with a compound created by the researchers.  Results show that the injected substance increased the activation of Rev-erb, a protein involved in controlling circadian rhythms and biological clocks.  As a result, the mice lost weight and improved their cholesterol, despite eating a high fat diet.

In addition, the mice used more oxygen during the day and 5% more energy than the control group. What’s most surprising is the mice that were injected with the compound did not exercise any more than the other group of mice and in some cases were more inactive than they were before their injections.

After seeing the results, the Scripps researchers took their study one step further.  In this study the researchers developed mice that had very low levels of mitochondria.  Mitochondria are the cell’s power producers and convert energy into a form that can be used by the cell.  Regular exercise, and specifically cardio exercise, increases the amount of power the mitochondria are able to generate.

These specially developed mice had oxygen capacities that maxed out at 60 percent lower than normal, showed poor endurance, and were physically exhausted more quickly than the mice with normal mitochondria levels.

When the mitochondria deficient mice were injected with the compound, their cells began producing mitochondria and the Rev-erb protein at higher rates. In no time, the mice were able to run longer and farther than the control group mice.

Don’t Worry. You’ll Still Want To Go To The Gym 

Researchers agree we are a long way away from an actual exercise pill or drug that replicates exercise. These preliminary studies do show that as scientists continue to seek to find ways to help inactive people achieve the benefits of exercise, an exercise pill may one day be the solution.

For people that look forward to their morning or afternoon trip to the gym for a workout or out to the pavement for a run, an exercise pill doesn’t have much appeal.  These folks know that the benefits of exercising go well beyond improvement in muscle strength and cardio endurance.

A pill won’t be able to deliver those things that push us up and out while other people are sleeping.  The endorphin rush, social connections, friendly competition, and sense of achievement won’t be in the pill. Nor will a dripping, hardcore session of boot camp, Cross Fit or spinning.

But, for people that have a debilitative condition or illness that prevents them exercising, a supplement that provides the benefits of exercise may go a long way towards improving their quality of life. That in itself is a good reason for scientists to keep working on the magic pill.

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