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Will There Someday Be an Exercise Pill?

August 21, 2008 | 26,805 views

exercise pillResearchers at the Salk Institute in San Diego have found two drugs that did wonders for the athletic endurance of “couch potato” mice. One drug, known as Aicar, increased the mice’s endurance on a treadmill by 44 percent after just four weeks of treatment. A second drug, GW1516, increased endurance by 75 percent, but had to be combined with exercise to have any effect.

The chemicals involved are already available, and athletes are asking about whether they work on humans.

Dr. Richard N. Bergman, an expert on obesity and diabetes at the University of Southern California, worried that the drugs might prove to have serious side effects. However, he acknowledged that if they are safe, they could become widely used.

The drugs activate at least one of the chemical pathways triggered by resveratrol, a substance that also resulted in increased endurance in mice. Large doses of resveratrol can allow mice to run twice as far as usual on a treadmill before collapsing.
 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

No doubt the drug companies are salivating at this one. The latest predictions are that 86 percent of Americans will be overweight by 2030, and a pill that produces the “benefits of aerobic exercise” with zero work would certainly have wide appeal.

Perhaps a small percentage of people -- those who truly are immobile and unable to exercise -- could benefit from a pill such as this, but then again there will undoubtedly be side effects. And right now no one knows what those will be.

But an exercise pill, should it come to fruition, will surely not be limited to that small group of people. It will be sought after by those looking to lose weight, those wanting to improve their endurance, and, of course, by athletes wanting to gain a competitive edge.

And even if you didn’t seek it out initially, the drug company that lands this deal will certainly launch a massive advertising campaign to make every American think their daily ‘exercise pill’ is as essential as food and water.

Imagine the money at stake.

Even if you were to overlook the potential for side effects (and they will surely exist), would an exercise pill really work?

Taking a Pill is Not Exercise

A pill may mimic a specific effect that exercise produces -- in this case transforming your muscle tissue from sugar-burning fast-twitch fibers to fat-burning slow-twitch ones -- but it will never mimic them all.

Exercise has countless effects on your body -- not only on your muscle fibers but also on your brain, your immune system, your ability to fight cancer and much more.

So to “mimic” all of these benefits you would literally need handfuls of pills -- and even then they could never reproduce the synergistic benefits that exercise has on the human body and mind.

The REAL Clincher

While it is clearly possible that bright researcher may be able to mimic many of the beneficial effects of exercise, the major element that nearly everyone fails to consider is the side effects.

One needs to have a comprehensive view when looking at these solutions and it has been my consistent observation that you simply can’t fool biology. No matter how smart we think we are, there always seem to be the hidden side effects that are invariably there.

These side effects can frequently be worse than the condition they are seeking to treat.

You don’t have to search far to find analogies.

Merely look at the 60,000 people who died from taking Vioxx. They thought they were taking the easy pill solution to relieve their joint pain by manipulating their COX 2 pathways. Did they relieve pain?

Absolutely.

But was the pain relief worth losing their life?

I don’t think so.

I can virtually guarantee that any one pill, simple solution for weight loss will have a similar story.

Is Exercise Really That Bad?

I’ve been an avid exerciser for my entire adult life, and I thoroughly enjoy it. But I realize that many people do not. The world is full of various drugs, machines and gimmicks all aimed at the same thing: to avoid real exercise.

True, exercise IS hard work, and it can take some finagling to fit it into your schedule four or five times a week.

But really, those downsides cannot compete with the countless benefits that exercise provides. When you finish with a workout, you should feel energized, upbeat and alive. And I’m a firm believer that the more you do exercise, and experience these incredible benefits, the easier it becomes to stay motivated with your workout routine.

Often, simply getting started is the hardest part, especially if you’re out of shape and haven’t exercised in a long time.

If this applies to you, I strongly suggest that you try out the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to get rid of the emotional blocks you have toward exercising. When you clear these up, you should feel positive, or at least neutral, about physical activity, and then you can move forward from there.

Aside from those who have an emotional aversion to exercise there are those who may loathe exercise because they feel it doesn’t help them.

Do You Exercise, Eat Healthy and STILL Not Lose Weight?

If you said “yes” to this question, it’s likely due to one of two things:

1. Not exercising correctly
2. Not eating for your nutritional type

In order to exercise correctly, so that you see results:
  • If you are overweight, you likely need to exercise for one hour to 90 minutes, five days a week. 
  • You should incorporate various activities including interval-type training, strength training, flexibility training (yoga, etc.) and endurance cardio training.
  • When you engage in cardio-type exercises, make sure you do it intensely enough so that it’s difficult to carry on a conversation.
Now, if you’re exercising long enough, hard enough and with the correct activities and you’re not losing weight, it’s probably due to your diet. You may even be eating healthy foods, but if they’re not right for your nutritional type then you won’t lose weight.

So along with exercising (if you’re not sure where to begin, hiring a knowledgeable personal trainer would be money well spent), make sure you are eating right for your unique nutritional type.

This formula may not come in pill form, but I guarantee it will give you the most health benefits that you could ever hope for.

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