Many athletes know that it takes a long time and lots of practice and exercise to build up the physical stamina it takes to participate in their sport. Track athletes such as distance runners practice for years to build up enough stamina to run such distances. Basketball players run up and down the courts in practice all through their school years and into the pros to build up their stamina or endurance in order to play most of a game.
Perhaps no one knows what it takes to build up endurance more than a marathon runner. I’ve always wondered what would make anyone want to run a marathon considering the race is patterned after what happened to a soldier who ran that distance and then collapsed and died from the physical effects it placed on his body.
You probably aren’t a track or professional athlete, but there are still plenty of times that you wish you had more physical endurance than you currently have. How quick did you tire out when mowing the lawn, trimming the shrubs and trees or cleaning the house? What about the last time you spent time with your kids? I’ve often heard parents say they wish they had the energy of the young.
If you’re an older person like me, you may have been fairly active most of your life, but now life has slowed down and you are forced to exercise to try to get yourself back in shape or lose weight. I ended up buying a treadmill and walk at least 1.5 miles twice a day. When I started walking, I had a hard time walking half a mile at a brisk pace before tiring out. I’ve now built up the endurance and stamina to do 1.5 miles a stint, but even then, I have to really push myself to cover that distance. I know the more I walk the more weight I’ll lose and better the exercise will be on my heart, but I just haven’t built up that stamina or endurance to walk further or longer.
We hear about all kinds of miracle drugs and pills these days, but what if you could take a pill that would help build your stamina for physical exertion? Sounds like one of those quack deals? Think again.
Ronald Evans, Professor and Director of the Gene Expression Lab & Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California believes he may have found just such a miracle stamina drug.
But don’t get too excited yet as his research is still in the early study phase. However, his research not only promises hope to millions of us that need stamina to help with our exercising and weight loss, but it will also raise ethical questions for amateur and professional athletes.
Evans’ miracle drug, known as GW1516 was given to laboratory mice for eight weeks. At that time, the test mice and control mice were placed on a treadmill and ran until they showed signs of fatigue. The control mice averaged about 160 minutes before fatiguing and the test mice that received GW1516 ran for an average of 270 minutes.
Evans and his research team believe that GW1516 works with a specific gene that changes the body from burning the stores of sugar for energy to burning fat. The implication of this could be not only beneficial to millions who are exercising to lose weight, but the idea of burning fat as part of the sudden increase in stamina could be huge for the weight loss industry.
Evan’s commented on his findings, saying:
“If you reprogram the genetics, you can acquire that level of fitness without having to expend a lot of energy.”
According to a recent report on Evans’ research:
“It’s not clear whether the chemical would work the same way in humans. But if it did, the results from the study could one day lead to a pill that controls a network of genes, turning them on and off to selectively burn fat and sugar, much like exercise training. Such a therapy could mimic the benefits of exercise for those with limited mobility, such as the elderly, obese or physically impaired.”
“In the new study, Evans and his team built on earlier work in which they found a kind of biological sensor called PPARD that, during exercise, senses fat in the muscle and then turns genes on and off to burn fat and preserve sugar. [Dieters, Beware: 9 Myths That Can Make You Fat]”
“Previous work also showed that GW1516 interacted with that sensor, activating the same set of genes as those that would be triggered by exercise. For example, in one study, Evans and his team gave GW1516 to normal mice for four weeks and showed that it controlled their weight and insulin response. But it didn’t seem to influence endurance in sedentary mice.”
“In the new study with sedentary mice, they increased the dose of GW1516 and gave the compound over a longer period.”
“When the scientists analyzed muscle tissue from the mice, they found a few interesting things. First, the tissue did not show any of the physiological changes associated with fitness training. There was no increase in the number of blood vessels or mitochondria, the power plants in cells that generate more than 90 percent of the energy.”
The bottom line is that GW1516 may help boost stamina and help burn fat, which could be a huge benefit for weight loss, it does not seem that the drug would benefit the heart or build-up of muscle. For athletes, they need to build-up muscle. For many of us regular folk, we need to not only build-up muscle mass but we need to improve heart function. Perhaps being able to exercise longer will allow someone to build up the muscle mass and improve heart health. Guess we’ll all have to wait to find out.