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New pill could offer 'same benefits as going to the gym', research finds

palm with capsules pill of sports supplements close-up.
A new pill may be able to mimic the benefits of exercise. (Getty Images)

Exercise is a great way to boost our health – but what if a pill could offer the same benefits of a workout?

This is what researchers have proposed, after discovering new compounds that appear to be capable of imitating the physical benefits of exercise.

Scientists from Washington University have said that the pill could offer other benefits such as making us feel younger, working against obesity, heart failure, and kidney decline, as well as staving off cognitive decline.

The researchers set out to replicate exercise’s ability to enhance muscle cell’s metabolism, performance and growth.

Now, they hope to create a drug that can offset muscle atrophy and weakness that occurs as people age and have developed a compound called SLU-PP-332 to help them do so.

This compound activates all three forms of specialised proteins known as oestrogen-related receptors (EERs) which are normally set off by exercise.

"We cannot replace exercise; exercise is important on all levels," associate professor Bahaa Elgendy from the Washington University School of Medicine said.

"If I can exercise, I should go ahead and get the physical activity. But there are so many cases in which a substitute is needed. In all of these conditions, ERRs play a major role. If you have a compound that can activate them effectively, you could generate so many beneficial effects."

Healthy senior woman doing swim noodle exercises in aerobics pool class. Active senior people doing workout in swimming pool holding swim noodles.
Regular exercise has multiple health benefits. (Getty Images)

While the compound is still being tested and developed, the team are hoping that it may be a potential future treatment for neurodegenerative disorders.

However, while a pill that could offer the same benefits as exercise is an exciting innovation, one personal trainer has said that performing physical exercise where possible is still important.

"If a pill existed that could provide people with the benefits of exercise, performing physical exercise would still be important," James Bickerstaff, Personal Trainer at OriGym tells Yahoo UK.

"Its benefits go beyond physical health as it can also improve mental and emotional well-being. When people perform physical exercise, it can improve their mood by reducing anxiety and depression."

Bickerstaff adds that physical activity can also improve cognitive function, which can help with focus, concentration and sleep.

"Physical exercise can also reduce the risk of people developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia," he adds.

"Exercise also offers an improvement in overall wellbeing. This is because people can engage in activities that require social interaction with friends and family when performing exercises. It can also boost their confidence."

people doing yoga poses
Exercise is important for the social aspects among other things. (Getty Images)

Current NHS guidelines recommend spreading 150 minutes of exercise across four to five days during the week, so it could be 30 minutes of exercise across five days or closer to 40 minutes across four.

"Exercise can also make people disciplined, teaching them how to be consistent, overcome challenges, set goals and develop a long-term commitment to achieve their goals," Bickerstaff adds.

"This can wire your brain to be disciplined in other areas of your life so you can achieve goals outside of fitness."

So, while a pill offering some excellent benefits may be on the horizon, don’t sleep on exercise and the importance it holds for your health.

Additional reporting by SWNS.

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