Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The end of exercise forever!

That sounds so wonderful to me.
I read this bit today on Whitley Strieber's Unknown Country.  Apparently, research scientists took sedentary mice and tweaked a single gene in their system.  This had the effect of enhanced cardiovascular and muscle growth that was the equivalent of two weeks of strength and endurance training.  Of course it's a long way to go to produce this kind of effect in humans, but the pure fact that it can be done in other organisms suggests the theoretical chance that it could be applied to other systems.
Researcher Bruce Spiegelman says, "If we learned to manipulate this pathway with specific exercise regimens or with drugs, we might be able to achieve some of the benefits produced by exercise-related heart enlargement."

I am lovin' this.  Like many Americans, I carry a tad more weight than I should with all of it localized around my equatorial region.  I have made the New Year's resolution to shed as much of it as I can.  This means diet and exercise.  Yep, no way around that.  Sadly, I hate the exercise part of that equation far more than the dieting as there are precious few physical activities I derive any kind of joy from.  So any chance, no matter how remote, that exercise could be removed from daily life is certainly welcome news to me.  Just think about it though: the entire fitness industry could collapse and be replaced by one that offers genetic manipulation.  What would happen to all those late night infomercials for the Thighmaster, that weird elliptical thing, and all the other weight machines and thingamabobs?  Steroid use in pro sports could become oh so 20th Century.  The real unsportsmanlike edge for an athlete would be genetic augmentation.  How would you go about testing for that?  Doubtless there are ways, but those would likely need to be developed in response over time.  A less self-centered viewpoint would be that this kind of genetic manipulation could strengthen heart tissue and regenerate damaged muscle in those suffering from injury or disease.  Just imagine what it could do in the developing nations of the world.

On a side note, Whitley's wife, Anne Strieber, is something of an authority on diet and fitness.  You can find links to her book on the subject at Unknown Country.

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