Friday, August 1, 2008

Exercise in a Pill

So the big news today, if you've been reading science sites and blogs, is the so-called "exercise pill." Researchers have devised a couple of drugs that could affect how you exercise. The first drug—called AICAR—was given to sedentary mice—those that were not exercising. After four weeks on the drug, the treated mice burned more calories and had less fat than untreated mice, and were able to run on a treadmill about 44 percent farther and 23 percent longer than the untreated mice.

The second drug—called GW1516—was given to mice that were exercising. After a month of exercise and the drug, the mice were able to run 68 percent longer and 70 percent farther than mice that exercised but were not given the drug. And when those mice were dissected, the researchers saw that the number of high-efficiency muscle fibers in their bodies had increased by 29 percent.

On the one hand, I think perhaps I've been working too hard at this whole getting-in-shape thing. But on the other hand, I realize that exercise has benefits beyond just what these pills are providing. When I go out for a jog, I'm not just lowering fat and building muscle, I'm strengthing my joints and bones as well. Not to mention, I'm engaging in social interaction with the other joggers in my training program.

So, while these drugs aren't readily available now, I'm not sure I'd be that interested in AICAR even if it was. But GW1516—which would help me improve faster from my exercise—might be something I'd be interested in.

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