‘Exercise pill’ could be on the way

‘Exercise pill’ could be on the way

Ever dreaded hitting the gym? You knew you needed it and that you would feel better after, but your mind kept making excuses to keep you from going?

If you’ve had to force yourself to stick to an exercise regimen, perhaps you’ve pondered the possibility that someday, maybe some smart scientist might develop a pill that could deliver at least some of the health benefits of exercise.

Science fiction pipe dream, right? Perhaps not.

A team of researchers, led by scientists at Stanford University, report that they’ve identified a molecule in blood produced during exercise that curbs appetite and obesity in mice.

And that, they believe, is a first step to making therapeutic interventions — that elusive exercise pill — a reality.

The scientists set out to understand how exercise works at the molecular level. Analyzing blood plasma compounds from laboratory mice following intense treadmill running sessions, they noted the production of a modified amino acid called Lac-Phe. [Lack Fee]. Lactate is a byproduct of exercise and phenylalanine [fen-l-al-uh-neen], an amino acid involved in building proteins. That funny burning feeling in your legs after you’ve run harder than normal? That’s lactate.

In lab mice fed a high-fat diet, a high dose of Lac-Phe suppressed food intake by about half compared with control mice, with no effect on their movement. Over a 10-day period, Lac-Phe reduced their total food intake and body weight.

While the researchers aren’t at all suggesting that a therapeutic treatment is around the corner, or that exercise won’t always be one of the best cures for what ails us, we can at least dream of a day when we no longer have to hear the phrase “no pain, no gain.”

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