If it isn’t something one does often, exercise can occasionally feel like a burden, a boring necessity of life. So what if there was a way to move it from a necessity filled with equipment and time to something popped in the mouth? What if a person could theoretically consume exercise? A new study from Stanford University has brought the world one step closer to that reality.
Publishing their results in the journal Nature, researchers from the United States have discovered the molecule behind exercise’s link to hunger.
Their original intentions were to find out why exercise makes someone hungry.
During the course of their investigation, they discovered the molecule, known as Lac-Phe, is produced during exercise.
It is this molecule that contributes to reducing obesity and food intake.
Speaking about their research Professor Young Xu said: “If we can understand the mechanism by which exercise triggers these benefits, then we are closer to helping many people improve their health.”
Meanwhile, it was co-author Jonathan Long who said these benefits communicated through pill form.
Long said the pill could help extend life: “We wanted to understand how exercise works at the molecular level to be able to capture some of its benefits.
“For example, older or frail people who cannot exercise enough, may one day benefit from taking a medication that can help slow down osteoporosis, heart disease or other conditions.”
Professor Xu added: “Our next steps include finding more details about how Lac-Phe mediates its effects on the body, including the brain.
“Our goal is to learn how to module this exercise pathway for therapeutic interventions.”
Although more research is needed in order to understand how to control and package this molecule, it marks a remarkable step towards an ‘exercise pill’.
While this would be a substantial scientific achievement, there are reasons other than physical fitness for people to continue exercising in the current way.
As well as helping people lose weight and improve their physical health, exercise has psychological health benefits too.
Exercise releases a series of hormones in the brain such as serotonin.
These hormones improve mood and wellbeing.
While the future may be akin to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the old ways may remain, at least for some, the best.