As soon as we’re old enough to start walking, the importance of exercise is stressed upon – by our parents, our schoolbooks and our PE teachers – to the point that it feels more like a chore than a way of life. Now, most of us know the pros of working out, but aren’t there days we just wish we could reap all the benefits without actually having to exercise?
Well, it looks like someone out there was definitely listening. This article claims that scientists are on the brink of creating a pill that’ll simulate all the benefits of real exercise, while you sit on your couch catching up on the latest episode of Masterchef Australia!
They’ve been studying the patterns of blood flow when the body is engaged in exercise.
Put simply, the heart pumps blood harder during a workout, and there’s a protein – Piezo1 – that picks up on the amped up effect on the blood vessels.
Consequently, it helps in the constriction of the vessels where blood isn’t needed at the time (such as the stomach) and the expansion of the arteries where it is needed (such as the brain). This very pattern is the one they aim to encapsulate.
On paper – as long as the clinical tests come through- this makes sense. In fact, the pill’s primary purpose would be to address health issues such as heart disease and diabetes, where exercise forms a vital part of the treatment.
It’s also great for the elderly or the obese, who otherwise can’t workout easily.
“I think it could be a great tool in today’s busy world, where people have no time to exercise. It’s an interesting prospect for the future, especially if it could save millions of lives,” says Madhav, a student and part-time mountaineering enthusiast at New York University, Abu Dhabi.
Shortcut to Fitness?
For those who’d like to use the pill as a weight-loss shortcut, consider this: the body is a complex organism which works in ways modern medicine doesn’t always acknowledge.
Not to mention the fact that every person’s body is impacted by the same medication in different ways.
Besides, exercise is so much more than just the pumping of extra blood to different parts of the body. It is a chance to get out into a natural environment (hold the argument on gyms here), to foster teamwork, and most importantly: to allow the mind to re-energise and sharpen itself.
The act of focusing on your breath, on shooting that hoop or hitting that ball, of holding a particular stance – all components of different methods of working out – ensure that your mind escapes, diverting its energy elsewhere; taking a break from the humdrum reality of everyday life.
It’s an irreplaceable factor of working out and one of the primary reasons people wax poetic about their favourite routines.
Considering all the above factors, wouldn’t an exercise pill become a band-aid-for-a-bullet-hole situation, making an already lazy generation even lazier?
“Pills are testament to the fact that there’s always a catch. There’s no substitute for pure, unadulterated hard work,” says Sawani Kumar, a member of the communications department at IKEA India.
“I can’t see the wisdom of giving a generation heading toward obesity another reason to think they can get out of it without doing the work,” concurs Rachel George, freelance writer and editor from Bangalore.
If the pill manages to achieve its goal, it could be a very useful supplement for those who really need it. Even so, it’s unlikely that it will ever replace exercising altogether.
What are your thoughts on this? Would you pop the pill? Tell us in the comments below.
Image Credit: Click here