Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Shark Jumping

The Spectator has pissed away all credibility in its Health section by suggesting that exercise could be replaced by a pill.  The research looked at the metabolic effects of intense exercise noting over 1000 molecular changes in the muscle, and one of the researchers (Dr Nolan Hoffman), articulated the following:

  • ‘Exercise produces an extremely complex, cascading set of responses within human muscle. It plays an essential role in controlling energy metabolism and insulin sensitivity. While scientists have long suspected that exercise causes a complicated series of changes to human muscle, this is the first time we have been able to map exactly what happens.

    ‘This is a major breakthrough, as it allows scientists to use this information to design a drug that mimics the true beneficial changes caused by exercise.’
The hormonal and metabolic cascade from exercise is what exercise should be all about.  To view it as some kind of penance for eating pie/cake or as a means to exclusively burn calories misses the rich outcome of activity.

There are other neurological benefits of exercise that also seem to be ignored here.  Exercising in a 'green' environment and the social benefits of engaging in a collaborative team pursuit all go to build the value of the 'energy out' side of the equation.

The idea that you can simulate (some) of the beneficial changes caused by exercise in a pill really does diminish what exercise should be about; that the spending of calories should be a largely pleasurable and enriching endeavour.

I do however look forward to the first pharmacological fruits of this research - and their unwanted side effects.

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