Can a tablet replace hours of exercise?
In general, people should exercise enough and it is best to carry out additional sporting activities to benefit from the positive effects on the body. But there are also people who, for various reasons, cannot take part in any sporting activities. Researchers have now developed a tablet that appears to have the same benefits as physical activity.
When investigating the health of the Salk Institute in San Diego, they found that a tablet could do the same for people as it would normally be achieved through exercise. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Cell Metabolism".
Tablet could make people with health problems fitter
Unfortunately, some people are not able to take part in sweaty fitness training or to go jogging for hours. A newly developed tablet now seems to be able to help precisely such people. This tablet, in particular, could enable people with obesity or certain physical disabilities to finally get the benefits of sufficient exercise, the authors say.
Drug leads to massive performance improvement in mice
The new experimental drug allowed mice to run on a treadmill for 270 minutes before exhaustion started. If the mice did not take such a drug, they could only walk 160 minutes before they reached their physical performance limit, the scientists explain.
Tablet useful for people with diabetes?
Increasing the practice of endurance sports also created a number of other obvious health benefits. When the mice took the drug for eight weeks, they were able to better control their blood sugar levels and had less weight problems, the researchers say. These effects indicate that the newly developed tablet could also help people with diabetes.
Physicians are studying the importance of endurance at the molecular level
Scientists from the Salk Institute in San Diego discovered the effects of the tablet when trying to understand the importance of endurance at the molecular level. Will it eventually be possible through research that medication will completely replace physical training and still lead to the same positive health benefits? Asked the author Ronald Evans at the time.
Drug affects activity of almost 1,000 genes
The drug, called GW501516, had previously shown in trials that it can improve endurance and also help burn fat better, the researchers explain. A series of mice tests on treadmills made it clear that the drug altered the activity of nearly 1,000 genes. Many of the genes that became more active as a result of the tablet were involved in fat burning and the physical load limit. The tablet suppressed other genes. Among them are some genes that normally convert sugar into energy, the doctors add.
The drug triggers the stress limit later
The drug helps the body burn fat faster. However, sugar is burned more slowly. The result of these effects is that the drug causes the drop in blood sugar level, which triggers the feeling of the stress limit, to occur later than normal, the experts speculate.
Tablet dramatically improves endurance capacity
In endurance sports competitions such as cycling, marathon and cross-country skiing, reaching the stress limit is a dramatic demonstration of the sudden complete exhaustion, the scientists explain. The new drug attributed its effect to muscle proteins called PPARD. The observed effect is sufficient to drastically improve the capacity of endurance, the researchers add.
Physical fitness without training?
PPARD activates physical activity. The new research showed that the same effect can be achieved without the person affected having to do any exercise at all. In other words, taking tablets can bring you to the same level of stamina as the trained people show, but without having to go through any physical exertion, explains author Weiwei Fan.
Initially, effects on cardiovascular diseases were examined
The active ingredient was originally developed in the 1990s. The drug should actually be used to treat cardiovascular diseases. The research was later discontinued because a number of studies had found that high doses of the drug could appear to cause cancer, the doctors say.
Medicines were used to improve performance at the Olympic Games
Nevertheless, the scientists continued to investigate the effects of the drug. A decade ago, the results of animal tests showed that the drug could potentially increase endurance. At that time it became clear that the drug was already offered as a doping agent on the black market. At the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008, apparently even some athletes used the drug to improve performance.
Tablet is particularly useful for people with health problems
Some groups of people cannot exercise for some reason. It would be very beneficial for such people to take a tablet that has some of the positive effects of exercise. A tablet of this type would allow sufferers to reach a certain level of physical endurance, from which they would then be able to start doing proper exercise, the study authors explain.
More research is needed
It is also important to find out the long-term effects of taking such tablets on those affected. For example, a person with obesity or diabetes could take the tablet for 40 or even 50 years, the scientists say. But what happens when people take this drug for so long? This question must first be answered by new studies. (as)