The Exercise Pill: One Swallow, Then Svelte

At Last, Something for Nothing

The Exercise Pill: one swallow away from svelte

It’s a chubby middle-aged woman’s dream come true—an exercise pill. Soon – well, one day – maybe, we’ll all be one swallow away from svelte!

It’s true. Well, sort of. What’s true is that scientists are working on drugs that provide the benefits of exercise without the need to actually move a muscle, get off the couch … or, horrors, sweat.

Imagine the possibilities. Imagine the delight. No more Pilates classes. No more Zumba sessions. No need to Rumba with your vacuuming Roomba!

The New Yorker recently detailed the science and status behind efforts to bring an exercise pill (a mouth-sized miracle) to market. The challenges are formidable. First and foremost, researchers have significant concerns about cancer. So, friends, please do not rush to the pharmacy to get the pill or plan to load up on carbs this the holiday season.

Yet, the mere thought of an exercise pill makes my head spin. If and when, this marvel of modern chemistry becomes available, I know demand will be high. And I think by all rights, women should get the first crack at this pill. I mean guys get Viagra. I think it’s only fair we gals, especially us middle-aged gals, are the first to get the skinny on this pharmaceutical wonder and get skinny first.

Time and Money

Even if the pill is expensive, think of the money we will save. No need to buy expensive gym club memberships, pricy Lululemon exercise clothes or those delicious, but over-priced, not to mention high caloric, spa smoothies. Best of all, no need to keep buying clothes to mask the bulk we keep adding. Instead, we will once again fit into clothes from our former slim glory days aka pre-child-bearing days. Although I do wonder … Are shoulder pads and power suits back in style?

Plus, think of the time saved. No more wasted hours arranging babysitters to watch the kids or time stuck in traffic driving to and from the gym. And, the biggest time saver of them all? No more time sequestered in the gym, doing those awful exercises. No more one-two-breath-gasp-crunch-ouch-curse-repeat routines. No more. No way. Never!

And finally, think of the emotional energy we’ll save. No more angst about going or to going to the gym.  No more guilt for avoiding the scale. No more guilt for not exercising. Exercise, schmexercise! From now on, there’s just one simple routine to follow: untwist prescription bottle cap, daintily remove capsule, insert into mouth, sip water, swallow. Finito. The exercise routine is done. Fifteen-twenty seconds tops. Then onward to the pantry. Cookies and cake for all! My treat!

Exercise Pill Research

Some of the cutting-edge research into creating an exercise pill is being done at the Salk Institute of Biological Sciences in La Jolla, Ca. The institute was founded by Jonas Salk, the man who developed the first safe and effective polio vaccine. It seems somewhat ironic that the institute named for a man who helped ensure millions could walk is now working on a product that could help millions of us avoid walking!

The researchers working on the exercise pill definitely have their own sense of humor. They’ve named two of their test subjects Couch Potato Mouse and Lance Armstrong Mouse. Couch Potato is sort of like you and me (well, at least me). He doesn’t exercise much and his diet consists of mostly fat and sugar. He’s lethargic and rolls of fat are apparently visible beneath his greasy-looking fur. Lance A. Mouse looks great and is in great shape. He gets a daily dose of the wonder drug–aka the exercise pill, which triggers the dozens of “biochemical changes that take place when people train for a marathon, changes that have substantial health benefits.” (The New Yorker)

Earlier tests on middle-aged, obese monkeys showed significant increases in good cholesterol and a decrease in bad cholesterol, but sadly, the results of long-term toxicity testing raised serious concerns about cancer.

Second Thoughts

So, now that I think about it, I’m not so sure we ladies really want first dibs on the exercise pill. In fact, I just remembered a cautionary story, more a rule of thumb, a doctor friend of mine outlined about prescribing new medication.

“First I wait six months to see if any concerns are raised. Only then do I start prescribing it to patients and even then, only to patients I’m not particularly close to. After a year, if no significant side effects have yet to be identified, I prescribe it to patients I like. After two years, I’ll give it to family members, and then, only after three years, if the medicine still checks out OK, I’ll take it myself.”

So, ladies, what do you think? Should we let the guys go first? Maybe we should at least let some of our relatives try it before we do, you know the ones we’re not so fond of?


Image Credit: The New Yorker, November 6, 2017

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