MIT and Harvard are working on an exercise-equivalent pill

We know that regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. According to the CDC, (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for its acronym in English): “Some benefits of physical activity for brain health occur immediately after a session of moderate or intense physical activity.

From running to rowing, exercise comes in many shapes and sizes. Now, a group of scientists from two of the most important universities in the United States claims to be one step closer to offering the benefits of exercise in pill form.

Researchers at MIT and Harvard Medical School have identified how exercise and high-fat diets change cells, genes and cellular pathways. His research could help develop drugs that mimic the effects of exercise and fight obesity.

“I think the message to all readers should be that exercise is not just about calories burned,” said Dr. Manolis Kelis, one of the study’s lead authors. “People shouldn’t say, ‘Oh great, they’re making a pill; I can stop training now’. The message is just the opposite. Basically, train now so you can reprogram your cells for later,” he added.

More and more research is revealing how our body clock, or circadian rhythm, can affect the metabolism and behavior of fat cells, and this new study is relevant in this area as well. The authors found that high-fat diets suppress the genes that control circadian rhythms, while exercise has the opposite effect and boosts them. Two of these genes correspond to human genes associated with circadian rhythm and increased risk of obesity.

“There are a lot of studies that show that the time of day you eat is very important for calorie absorption,” says Kelis. “The relationship with the circadian rhythm is very important and shows how obesity and exercise actually have a direct impact on this circadian rhythm in peripheral organs, which can act systemically on distal clocks and regulate cellular functions. Mother and Immunity”.

Immediate benefits of physical activity according to the CDC:

  • Manage your weight.
  • Reduce the risks to your health.
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles.
  • Improve your ability to perform daily activities and prevent falls.
  • Increase your chances of living longer.

Exercise has a lot to do with reprogramming the body to process energy better, to be in a more metabolically active state.

“What we’re finding is that both obesity and exercise have a dramatic effect on biology,” Kelis explained in an interview with Boston.com. “They affect many, many pathways and many genes, in multiple cell types in each of these tissues.”

These findings are important because “a high-fat diet and obesity are major risk factors for almost every aspect of human biology, every aspect of human health,” Kelis said, citing COVID-19, diabetes and neurodegenerative conditions as examples.

According to the CDC, in 19 states and two US territories, at least 35% of residents are obese as adults. Obesity is a common, serious and costly chronic disease in adults and children.

While the researchers’ long-term goal is drugs and therapies, Kelis noted that one of the main takeaways from the study is the systemic effects of diet and exercise on the body.

But access to quality food and the physical ability to exercise regularly are not givens and are not viable lifestyle interventions for everyone. For this reason, the scientists believe the findings are also important because they point to new targets for drugs that could one day replicate the effects of exercise.

“Understanding the molecular mechanisms that drive the beneficial effects of exercise and the deleterious effects of a high-fat diet is critical to understanding how we can intervene and develop drugs that mimic the effects of exercise on multiple tissues,” says Kelis.

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