What if we could enjoy the benefits of exercise simply by swallowing a pill? Earlier this week in the journal Nature Medicine researchers at the Scripps Institute in Florida suggested that we are closer than ever to attaining this goal. They found that mice injected with a protein called REV-ERB underwent physiological changes usually associated with exercise, including increased metabolic rates and weight loss. Even obese, inactive mice experienced these changes.
The implications of this line of research could be huge. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Time Use Survey, Americans are exercising far more than we did 40 years ago - in fact, almost three times more. The average American now spends about two hours per week exercising -- or at least that's what we tell surveyors. Yet this is still only half the four hours per week recommended by many experts. And of course, we remain the second most obese nation in the world.
The exercise pill would help on multiple fronts. First, just think what we could do with an extra two hours per week. We would finally have the time to sit down and phone an old friend, take another shot at those scrapbooks, or get that bathroom repainted. Time really is money, and getting those two hours back would count for a lot.