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June 25, 2012 at 2:19 PMComments: 2 Faves: 0

No Motivation to Exercise? There's a Pill for That

By Laura Hogg More Blogs by This Author

Welcome back to FitChatter! This week in the news: researchers are developing a new pill that does the seemingly impossible: it gives you the motivation to exercise!

There’s a pill for just about everything these days. Got a headache? Pop a pill. High blood pressure? Pop a pill. Allergies? You know the drill.

But up until this point, there’s one thing that modern medicine hasn’t been able to conjure up a pill for: exercise. I mean, there’s no way that you can put exercise in pill form, right? There are diet pills, yes; but when it comes to fitness, there’s just no substitute for getting up and moving your muscles yourself.

However, though there may never be a way to bottle up exercise into little capsules, researchers are working hard on developing the next best thing: a pill that gives you the motivation to work out.

Arguably the hardest part of getting into a stable exercise routine, motivation (well, the lack thereof) has long been a stumbling block for would-be Weight Watchers spokespeople. It’s one thing to want to lose weight – it’s another thing entirely to change the rhythm of your days and weeks to include visits to the gym or a workout DVD. I’ve been trying to do it myself for months, with...mixed results. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot better – there hasn’t been more than a week in the last two months that has gone by without at least one workout – but I’ll be the first to tell you: motivation is tough to come by, even when you know the good that will result.

All that is to say: working out? Easy. Getting motivated? Not so easy. So that’s why this new pill seems like something of a miracle for dieters everywhere.

But how does it work?

As the research is still new, details are admittedly scarce at this point, but here’s the story: A team of Swiss researchers recently discovered that elevated levels of the hormone erythropoietin (Epo for short) caused mice to be more motivated to exercise.

As of now, that’s pretty much all that’s known about the project – but it does seem promising. Though anything that alters brain chemistry should be used with caution, it certainly seems to me that this could potentially be a better alternative to diet pills with alarming side effects. This pill, at least, encourages people to be active, instead of passively hoping the weight will melt off on its own.

So while finding motivation from within should always be the first course of action, this pill could be a good backup plan for those of us who find it difficult to summon up the motivation to hit the gym.

What do you think, FitChatters?

What concerns do you have about this pill?

Would you try it yourself?


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  • Isn't EPO the hormone that makes you produce blood? Does it have some other purpose as well or is it just the increased oxygen levels in your body that make you want to exercise? Interesting blog. I would love a pill that would make me want to exercise, but I can't believe that it's healthy for me.

  • Hmm... motivation in a pill DOES sound pretty awesome, but I've got to admit, I'm skeptical that motivation is purely chemical thing or that playing with hormones is safe enough to warrant their use for something as trivial as not wanting to exercise.

    Doing a little research on erythropoietin I found a few items of concern:

    "When exogenous EPO is used as a performance-enhancing drug, it is classified as an erythropoiesis-stimulating agent (ESA)"

    "Erythropoietin is available as a therapeutic agent produced by recombinant DNA technology in mammalian cell culture. It is used in treating anemia resulting from chronic kidney disease and myelodysplasia, from the treatment of cancer (chemotherapy and radiation)."

    "Erythropoietin is associated with an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular complications in patients with kidney disease if it is used to increase hemoglobin levels above 13.0 g/dl."

    "Several publications and FDA communications have increased the level of concern related to adverse effects of ESA therapy in selected groups. In a revised Black Box Warning, the FDA notes significant risks associated with ESA use. ESAs should be used only in patients with cancer when treating anemia specifically caused by chemotherapy, and not for other causes of anemia. Further, it states that ESAs should be discontinued once the patient's chemotherapy course has been completed."

    Bummer, because motivation and willpower is something I would LOVE to have more of! For now, I think I'll just stick to the old-fashioned methods of self-motivation - coffee, music and the shame that comes with an undeniable lack of effort. ;)

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