Jul 31 2008 8:07pm

Couch Potatoes Everywhere Raise Their Fists, Weakly, In Celebration

What do the sluggardly and slothful wish for the most, aside from a Mountain Dew IV drip and Kari Byron to feed them Cheetos while they play Halo 3? That's right, to be able to ingest a pill to give them all the benefits of exercise without, you know, having to move. That glorious day may just have come closer, as scientists have discovered a chemical that fools the body into thinking it's just had a workout:


In experiments on mice that did no exercise, the chemical compound, known as AICAR, allowed them to run 44% farther on a treadmill than those that did not receive the drug.


The drug, according to the researchers, changed the physical composition of muscle, essentially transforming the tissue from sugar-burning fast-twitch fibers to fat-burning slow-twitch ones -- the same change that occurs in distance runners and cyclists through training...

"It's an amazing piece of pharmacology," said David Mangelsdorf, a pharmacologist at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, who was not connected with the research. "You're getting the benefits of exercise without having to do any work."

However, before you get yourself all winded in an attempt to celebrate, please note that this is still in the "test it on helpless rodents" phase of things; until and unless this line of research pans out, you will still have to occasionally hie your carcass off the davenport if you don't want to keel over whilst grabbing for the packaged, orange-powdered corn bits you love so well. And no, Kari Byron isn't coming over to bring them to you. Kari Byron can have anyone she wants. She's not going to hang with people marinating in their own Ritz Bits, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. Yes, life is unfair. Or at least will be until this exercise chemical hits your local pharmacy.

Patrick Shepherd
1. hyperpat
Why do rodents always get the good stuff first? I mean, the FDA needs to seriously fast track this stuff, as my couch-potato body is absolutely refusing to do anything as onerous as 'exercise', and soon won't actually be able to do any of same. If this goes on too long, what we'll have is a group of super-rodents capable of leaping tall buildings in a single bound and a bunch of pasty humans just waiting to be run over.

Hmmm, maybe there's an idea for a story there...
Kevin Maroney
2. womzilla
As the owner of many pet rodents, let me assure you that the medical state of the art for rats is many, many year behind that for humans. When medicines are given to rats, the researchers generally aren't trying to find out how well the meds work on rats.
Thomas Perry
3. SirTomster
I have discovered another item that helps me get off my ass. Disc Golf. I sit at a desk at work. I sit at a desk at home. I sit. But w/ Disc Golf, I actually get moving around.

Beware Disc Golf. That stuff is addicting. Might just get you to exercise. It is of the devil! But too late.

Now if I just didn't suck.
David Keck
5. dkeck
I'm concerned about the cavalier way these scientists create rodent super races.

(Oh scientists: Can't we agree that the current rodent super races are sufficient?)

~Frequent Subway User
Ray Radlein
6. RayRadlein
I, for one, welcom—          no, wait, actually I don't.
7. steveofshadows
I don't see that working too well for humans, the strain on the heart would be too much if it wasn't conditioned to work as hard.

besides, I'm still waiting on virtual reality and the cure for baldness before I can get a six pack sitting on my ass
Eric Tolle
8. ErictheTolle
I was going to post something trenchant and witty about this, but that would just take too much effort.
9. Tim Kyger
I haven't seen this thought anywhere else. Let me know if anyone has.

These drugs may be an effective way to combat the effects of freefall on muscle atrophy.
ewan mcnay
10. ewanmcnay
Hey, my field!

AICAR (5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide ribonucleoside) simulates AMP - or, basically, makes your body think that it is currently energy deprived (because the ration of ATP to AMP lowers). One response is to increase the rate of glucose metabolism - and likely fat metabolism - which would provide the plausible basis for change in muscle-fiber composition.

BUT (many buts). For that alteration to cause e.g. weight loss requires that the animal be exercising; very few couch potato mice. And to make things worse, we recently found that repeated hypoglycemia (which is akin to taking AICAR several times) leads to a *doubling* of body weight, and assorted other problems, in rats (which are closer to humans than are mice). I can provide .pdfs of the work if anyone actually cares ;)
11. scifidavid
A Mountain Dew IV drip? That sounds awesome!!

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