As people in developed countries are living increasingly sedentary lifestyles‒ which can lead to chronic diseases such as type II diabetes, heart disease, and obesity‒ researchers have been attempting to develop a drug that can imitate the physiological benefits of traditional exercise. Earlier this year it was revealed in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences that there are currently up to eight candidate exercise pills that are already in early stages of testing.
Before cancelling your gym membership, it is important to recognize that these drugs are not only years away from entering commercial markets, but also that they are not complete replacements for exercising.
Before cancelling your gym membership, it is important to recognize that these drugs are not only years away from entering commercial markets, but also that they are not complete replacements for exercising. These pills work to target signaling pathways activated during exercise that helps strengthen and tone skeletal muscles. Regular exercise, on the other hand, provides holistic benefits to the human body such as increased cardiovascular functioning, mood elevation, and anti-inflammatory responses, in addition to muscle development. The full benefits of an active lifestyle cannot yet be mimicked by drugs.
The true beneficiaries of “exercise pills” are individuals who suffer from spinal injuries, stroke victims, amputees, or those who are otherwise unable or unwilling to exercise on their own. Wheelchair-bound patients or other patients who struggle with motility would greatly benefit from increased muscular tone by taking such a pill every day. Only time will tell if “exercise pills” will become commonplace in the drug market either through the provision of life altering care for disabled or non-compliant patients or through usage as a supplement for someone looking to get the most out of their existent exercise regime.
Li, S., & Laher, I. (2015). Exercise Pills: At the Starting Line. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences. doi:10.1016
Rieland, R. (2015, October 13). Scientists Are Working on a Pill That Just Might Replace Exercise. Retrieved October 15, 2015.