Exercise in a Pill August 5, 2008Posted by Matt Brown in Fitness, Human Enhancement.
Here’s a story I found that makes me really excited and really depressed. Apparently, scientists at the Salk Institute (in San Diego I might add) have developed two drugs that mimic the effects of exercise in the lab mice they’ve been given to. The drugs apparently increase endurance, increase the number of Type I (slow twitch) fibers in skeletal muscle and keep the mice lean even when being fed a high fat diet that caused obesity in the untreated mice. As I said at the beginning, this makes me very excited. This has the potential to help treat sick and disabled people who are unable to exercise and aid in recovery and rehab. In addition it has the potential to push human endurance to a new level, allowing runners to run faster and longer than they ever could before, something that will excite some and dismay others. However, this also makes me depressed. Besides potentially putting personal trainers out of work, this is a couch potato’s dream. If there is one thing I can’t stand it’s people searching for a magic bullet, a way to reap all the benefits of exercise without any of the work. If this drug passes testing, is found to have no side effects and is released onto the market, a good sized if, then we will have found the magic bullet. You see my dilemma. In the end, I’m too optimistic about the good technologies like this can do to want anything less than to see it succeed. However, I hope that we don’t lose sight of the fact that while this gives us a powerful new tool to improve ourselves ultimately it is just a tool. It will still take willpower and effort to reach our potential, to achieve true greatness.