Exercise from the Couch
by Bill Diblasio
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get the benefits of exercise without expending more energy then swallowing a pill?
AICAR, an old drug that has long been recognized for its ability to stimulate the creation of mitochondria, might be the pill for you.
Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell, producing the energy that powers our body. Recently, AICAR was administered to mice who were kept sedentary. After a few weeks, the AICAR mice raced regular sedentary mice, and ran 44% farther and 23% longer.
AICAR seems to mimic the effects of aerobic exercise, increasing stamina, but not building strength. It is being investigated as an aid in fighting diabetes and aging, and for uses in heart bypass surgery. Athletes need not apply.
Of course, the fact that AICAR works in mice doesn’t mean it’ll work in humans. Furthermore, it might have unpleasant side effects. And, as many researchers have hastened to point out, it doesn’t mimic all the myriad of benefits a person gets from real movement and exercise, which includes many chemical reactions besides mitochondria.