The days of not being able to have your cake and eat it too may soon be drawing to a close. Thanks to the modern miracle that is science, researchers may soon be ready to release an exercise pill that gives you all the benefits of going to the gym without the sweat, smell, and moaning and groaning that generally accompanies a tough workout. Teams at the University of Sydney and the University of Copenhagen have long been studying the molecular effects exercise has on the body in hopes of artificially reproducing them, and now their efforts have begun to pay off, much to our collective benefit.
“We’ve created an exercise blueprint that lays the foundation for future treatments, and the end goal is to mimic the effects of exercise,” Dr. Nolan Hoffman of the University of Syndey told Quartz. “It’s long been thought that there were many signals elicited by exercise, but we were the first to create this map and we now know the complexity.” As it turns out, the healthful effects of exercise manifest themselves in over 1,000 molecular changes that impact everything from energy metabolism to insulin sensitivity, helping you lose or maintain weight, or simply keep your health in good order.
The development of the pill, researchers believe, will serve as a particular boon to those who simply can’t exercise, either because of injury, age, or other physical limitations. Currently, the teams’ focus resides in strengthening muscles and lowering cholesterol, but the form and function of the proposed medication may continue to evolve as scientists evaluate the needs of their patients.
Of course, despite this phenomenal news, an exercise pill is by no means meant to entirely replace your exercise regimen. “I want to be clear that really there is no way to replace routine exercise with an exercise pill,” Ismail Laher, a professor at the University of British Columbia and study co-author told The Washington Post. “Exercise requires your heart rate to go up, blood to flow faster, and you cannot do that with an exercise pill … but in particular groups, it’s the next best thing.”
In any case, it’ll be around another decade before the pill is actually ready for the market (after all, it took three years just to develop the blueprint), so don’t throw away your gym card or your workout clothes just yet. But at least you’ve got something to look forward to.