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An ‘exercise pill’ is coming, but don’t sell your treadmill just yet

Raise your hand if you’ve hoped science would develop a pill that could give you six-pack abs without you needing to step a foot inside the gym.

That notion might soon be a reality… sorta.

New research from scientists at the University of Sydney and the University of Copenhagen studied four healthy males and took muscle biopsies and blood samples before and after a 10-minute HIIT workout. This allowed the researchers to map out a “blueprint” of how exercise produces molecular changes — 1,000 of them! — in our muscles.

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The idea is that a pill would help the body recreate a number of these changes at once, reducing the need for actual physical exertion to get the same benefits. Basically, it’ll give your body the ability to burn fat without moving. “What we know is that when animals and humans exercise, you get fat that becomes more metabolically active” — your fat cells begin to burn off excess calories instead of storing them, study author Chad Cowen told New York Magazine. “So it is sort of replacing the effect of exercise on fat.”

But don’t get too excited for this “pill to replace the treadmill” just yet. First of all, commercial availability is at least 10 years away.

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And while we do have important medications that can help regulate moods, it’s nearly impossible to recreate that “runner’s high” that happens when the endorphins start pumping after a sweat session. These pills could be a good complement to a healthy lifestyle to help make your body an even better fat-burning machine.

“It’s like Peter Parker,” Cowen told New York Magazine. “It isn’t like he isn’t still Peter Parker when he becomes Spider-Man. It’s just that now he can also do all these new and different things.”

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