Imagine if, instead of sweating on the treadmill and forcing yourself through repetitive sit-ups, you could have the benefits of exercise without any of the effort. That scenario isn’t a ridiculous fantasy but a serious scientific goal, and researchers have recently published a major breakthrough: They have created a blueprint of the molecular reactions to exercise.
The findings, published in Cell Metabolism on Oct. 2, show that exercise causes 1,000 molecular changes in skeletal muscles. Dr. Nolan Hoffman, an author of the study and a research associate at the School of Molecular Bioscience, University of Sydney, says that the goal is to identify the most important changes, so that these can be replicated using drugs.
“We’ve created an exercise blueprint that lays the foundation for future treatments, and the end goal is to mimic the effects of exercise,” he tells Quartz from Sydney. “It’s long been thought that there were many signals elicited by exercise, but we were the first to create this map and we now know the complexity.”