Danish research bringing us closer to exercise in pill form

Study reveals over 1,000 molecular reactions in muscles exposed to physical activity

Groundbreaking research partly carried out by the University of Copenhagen (KU) could lead to the future development of exercise in the form of a pill.

In collaboration with Sydney University, the researchers have revealed over 1,000 molecular reactions in muscles exposed to physical activity. The revelation is a big step towards better understanding what happens to muscles during exercise and why activity is healthy.

“Physical activity produces loads of extremely complex reactions in the muscles, and it’s the first time that we have been able to map so many of them,” said Erik A Richter, one of the co-authors of the research, who is a professor at the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at KU.

“Knowing how much of an impact physical exercise has for the treatment of lifestyle illnesses is a massive breakthrough. It is a starting point in the mapping of the connection between exercise and health.”

READ MORE: MIT opens its doors to Danish researchers

Targeting more molecules
The researchers used mass spectrometry (an advanced technique used to identify molecules) to analyse the muscle biopsies of healthy, but not super-fit men who were asked to take part in 10 minutes of intensive cycling.

The study revealed that even short and intense physical activity activates a large number of enzymes in the human musculature and generates over 1,000 molecular effects in the muscles.

As of now, most medicine targets individual molecules, but the new research suggests that in order to mimic the effect of exercise, medicine is required to target several molecules simultaneously.

The results have been published in the recognised scientific journal Cell Metabolism.