Can a medication cause the same benefits as exercise?
Many of us lack the time or strength of will to do the exercise that our body needs to stay in good shape , and both are necessary to a greater or lesser extent. Not to mention those people who due to injuries, overweight or any other physical problem do not have it easy to move.
With this in mind, will the day come when we can replace the sport with a pill that has the same effects? It sounds futuristic but the idea is not so far.
This same year a group of scientists has found a mechanism that activates in the body of mammals one of the responses that are activated when exercising. This could result in a medication that replaces or facilitates physical activity in those who need it.
Piezo1 and the blood supply
The key is a protein called Piezo1 , present in the walls of blood vessels that go from the heart to the stomach and intestines, and which is able to detect a change in blood flow during physical activity. The researchers called this protein an exercise sensor .
When we exercise, the heart sends more blood through the body. Piezo1 protein detects the increase in pressure in the walls of these arteries, and slightly alters its activity to contract them. This reduces irrigation to organs that do not need it at that time, leaving it free to reach the brain and muscles.
This is an important advance because it identifies for the first time one of the biomolecular mechanisms with which the body responds to exercise. If it is possible to activate that response in other ways, scientists believe that they can get the benefits of exercise triggered at other times.
More performance, less weight, better sugar control
They are not the first to look for an alternative mechanism to achieve the benefits of sport. Another team of scientists, a few months before, announced new results on a drug that not only increased the performance of athletes, but also brought some added benefits, such as taking less weight or better control blood sugar levels.
The medication is named after GW501516 and has previously been shown to increase stamina levels and accelerate fat burning. In an experiment with mice, it showed that it affected about 1,000 genes, activating some and silencing others.
Some of them are related to the conversion of sugar into energy, which could explain the increase in sports performance, since it postpones the moment when a drop in sugar produces a feeling of extreme tiredness, something that until now was only possible to achieve Training enough.
Debates and dilemmas
These advances and discoveries open an interesting ethical debate. For example, what should be its relationship with professional sports and those who practice it. Some of them have been banned in official competitions, such as the Olympic Games, since after all it is a type of dopping.
On the other hand, as we explained here, physical and metabolic changes are not the only effects of exercise in our body. The psychological benefits, among others, can hardly come from the hand of a pill.