According to a new research published in Cell Metabolism, about 1000 molecular reactions related to exercise have been discovered, opening doors for developing drug treatments that mimic the health benefits of exercising.

The breakthrough research performed at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre revealed a thousand molecular changes that occur within our muscles when we exercise – this is the first ever and the largest comprehensive exercise blueprint.

What Happens When We Exercise?

Leading the study was Professor David James, Leonard P. Ullmann Chair of Metabolic Systems at the Charles Perkins Centre. He emphasized on the importance of exercise as the most valuable therapy for various human diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular complications and even neurological disorders.

However, exercise isn’t a viable option for certain people, highlighting the need for developing drugs that mirror the benefits of exercise instead.

Researchers from the University of Sydney, along with researchers from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, studied four human skeletal muscle biopsies of untrained, healthy males after ten minutes of high intensity exercise. With the help of mass spectrometry, they studied the process of protein phosphorylation, discovering that short, intense exercise stimulates more than 1000 changes within the muscles.

Exercise Pill: Transforming Exercise Into Medicine

Most conventional medicines target individual molecules; however the exercise blueprint proves that any drug mirroring exercise must be able to target multiple molecules and most probably even pathways.

Moreover, the major changes discovered in the research have never before been linked to exercise.

According to co-author Dr Nolan Hoffman from the Charles Perkins Centre and Faculty of Science, the changes that occur in muscles during exercise are extremely complex – a cascade of responses. They play an integral role in controlling energy metabolism and regulating insulin sensitivity.

“This exact map of the changes is a major breakthrough. It will allow scientists to design a drug that mirrors the actual benefits caused by exercise”.

Narrowing Down Possibilities For Exercise pill

Having developed a sound blueprint, researchers are now narrowing down therapeutic possibilities using mathematical and engineering-based analysis.

The data show the complexity of the response that occurs during exercise: it isn’t a single phenomenon – the drug will have to target multiple aspects. This research has provided the road-map to figuring out how to translate these phenomena into a medicinal drug.