As we all know, exercise is necessary for physical and mental health, and improving our quality and length of life. But for people who find it difficult to exercise due to age or medical conditions, these benefits are difficult to enjoy. What if we could get some of the advantages of exercise from the comfort of a sofa?
Researchers at Stanford School of Medicine have identified a molecule – called Lac-Phe – released during exercise that can reduce food intake and therefore lower obesity.
“Regular exercise has been proven to help weight loss, regulate appetite and improve the metabolic profile, especially for people who are overweight and obese,” said co-author Dr. Yong Xu. “If we can understand the mechanism by which exercise triggers these benefits, then we are closer to helping many people improve their health.”
Of course, nobody is suggesting that this should replace exercise for the able-bodied, but it could enable people who are not able to do exercise to live a healthier lifestyle. “We wanted to understand how exercise works at the molecular level to be able to capture some of its benefits,” added co-author Dr. Jonathan Long. “For example, older or frail people who cannot exercise enough, may one day benefit from taking a medication that can help slow down osteoporosis, heart disease or other conditions.”
These experimental results help to clarify the interplay of chemicals involving hunger and exercise, a complex collaborative process. However, more work needs to be carried out to fully understand how Lac-Phe mediates this effect in the body and brain before humans will be able to pop such a pill.
In the meantime, if you are able, find a sport or exercise programme that you enjoy!