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Exercise in a Pill

The notion of getting the benefits of exercise from a pill is absurd. Without reading anything about the science behind this new “labor-saving device”, I can confidently predict that – as in the case of some of the statin drugs – there will be hell to pay for tricking the body into thinking it has exercised.

The statin drugs are one of the most popular drugs on the market. They reduce cholestrol by interfering chemically with the liver, where much cholesterol is produced. In some people, there have been terrible side-effects from the statin drugs. To add insult to injury, a recent scientific review of studies done on the statin drugs showed that there was no demonstrated benefit from the drugs compared to taking a placebo. I expect a similar outcome from developing and marketing a drug that will make the body think it has exercised.

Other examples of magic pills to help us lose weight have been found to entail serious health risks. Do the names “Amphetamine” and “Ephedra” mean anything to you? There is no doubt that these drugs cause weightloss, but the side-effects are a killer! I suspect this new pill will have some major downside that won’t be discovered until it has been prescribed to a few hundred thousand couch potatoes. Ah, but what do I know? I’m not a doctor; I’m just a well-read person who has successfully avoided doctors and hospitals for my fifty-nine years.

I have found, in the course of a long and healthy life, that there are some general rules by which the world works. One of these laws is “There is no such thing as something-for-nothing.” This new pill is a perfect example of selling the concept of “something for nothing”, and this leads me to suspect that somehow, somewhere down the line, there will be a hidden price to pay.

Catering to humanity’s weaknesses seems to be the way to earn a fortune, so naturally it attracts charlatans and snake-oil salesmen. The pharmaceutical industry has grown fabulously wealthy by finding ways to temporarily trick nature into producing an avidly desired result. It is disappointing that our medical profession might soon become frontmen for such as character-destroying pill as this – even if it did work, which I doubt.

The natural way to burn excess calories and reduce body fat is actually a pleasant habit that offers multiple side benefits. It is called “exercise.” It produces natural feel-good substances called endorphins in the body that are better than any drug available. Most importantly, exercise is free. It doesn’t require a prescription or a costly visit to the doctor.

What will consumers of this exercise pill do with the time they don’t spend exercising? Watch more TV? Sit on the couch eating? Play more video games? Sit in their cubicle longer to earn more money?

I suppose the marketing department for the pharmaceutical corporation that releases this new wonder drug to the public will talk mainly about its benefits for those who can’t exercise: paraplegics, homebound folks, and those in nursing homes, etc. The real market will be much bigger, though. It will be sold to everybody who feels they don’t get enough exercise, but are not motivated enough to do anything about it. That’s a big market, unfortunately.
It is a shame that so much money is being spent to create a “lazy person’s way to fitness”. It is disturbing that medical science is being used to find ways to avoid doing what is natural and conducive to health. I see a trend here: Those who can’t bring themselves to eat less and exercise are offered bariatric surgery; Those who can’t do what it takes to lose weight can have their knees replaced when they wear out; And now, we are told it may be possible to gain the physical benefits of exercise without breaking a sweat! Sorry, but I won’t be paying for this (dis)service – I can get my exercise for free.