‘Exercise Pill’ Could Replace Working Out Forever

"All the benefits of working out without moving a muscle."

‘Exercise Pill’ Could Replace Working Out Forever

Image: Tiger Fitness

When something sounds too good to be true, especially in the snake-oil-saturated fitness industry, it usually is. However, while most promised muscle-building, weight loss, and nutritional shortcuts are certified hokum, this new breakthrough from a team in the USA may be the beginning of the end for your gym membership.

In a landmark study that could the way we approach our physical fitness forevermore, scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have unveiled an “exercise pill.” After more than a decade of research, the concept is designed to replicate some of the most important and desirable physical benefits of exercise, providing a futuristic solution for those unable to enjoy traditional forms of physical activity.

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The study — presented at the spring meeting of the American Chemical Society — revealed that the research team had successfully created compounds — specifically, one catchily named “SLU-PP-332” — that were capable of mimicking the effects of exercise in rodent cells. We’ve tried to summarise the scientific jargon in the short paragraph below before we move on to the puported human benefits…

Metabolic changes associated with exercise activate special proteins called ERRs, with SLU-PP-332 targeting all three forms of these proteins including ‘ERRα’ which regulates stress-related responses and muscle processes. In their studies on mice, the team found that SLU-PP-332 increased fatigue-resistant muscle fibres and improved endurance.

While the notion of ditching your gym routine for a pill may seem far-fetched, researchers emphasise that their goal is not to eliminate the need for exercise but to offer a much-needed alternative for people facing barriers to traditional physical workouts. Suffice to say, the potential uses for this are vast and probably underappreciated by the able-bodied.

Image: National Ataxia Foundation

First, it could offer new treatment options for muscle atrophy, heart failure, neurodegenerative diseases, and any other medical condition that limits ability to exercise. Moreover, as people age muscle weakness occurs naturally while conditions like cancer can speed along that process. This pill could help offset all of these effects and many more while maintaining muscle and fat balance in the body.

The pill could also counteract any muscle and fat loss induced by other medications, such as certain weight-loss drugs (Ozempic, we’re looking at you…). However, it’s important to note that the research is still in its early stages. Further testing in other animals is required before even considering human trials or a wide-scale rollout.

However, the scientists behind the study are cautiously optimistic about what the pill could, in only a short few years, offer those who cannot exercise by conventional means.