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Struggle to get to the gym Scientists discover hormone that motivates you to exercise
12:42 GMT, 13 June 2012
The dieting market is chock-a-block with supplements that promise to suppress the appetite. Now scientists have come up with a novel new way to tackle weight-loss – they have found a potential pill that makes you exercise harder instead.
Researchers from the University of Zurich in Switzerland found that when a certain hormone in the brain was elevated in mice, it motivated them to run faster.
Can't face a workout A hormone pill may be able to motivate you
They said the hormone erythropoietin (Epo) had the beneficial effect without elevating red blood cell counts at the same time.
The potential treatment could help people with conditions from obesity to Alzheimer's disease, where increased physical activity is known to improve symptoms.
Team researcher Max Gassmann, said: 'Here we show that Epo increases the motivation to exercise.
'Most probably, Epo has a general effect on a person's mood and might be used in patients suffering from depression and related diseases.'
The researchers, who published their results online in The FASEB Journal compared three types of mice: those that received no treatment, those that were injected with human Epo, and those that were genetically modified to produce human Epo in the brain.
They found the two mouse groups that were harbouring human Epo in the brain ran faster and for longer than the control mice.
'If you can't put exercise in a pill, then maybe you can put the motivation to exercise in a pill instead,' said Dr Gerald Weissmann, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal.
'As more and more people become overweight and obese, we must attack the problem from all angles. Maybe the day will come when gyms are as easily found as fast food restaurants.'
In 2010, just over a quarter of adults (26 per cent of both men and women aged 16 or over) in England were classified as obese.
It is estimated that the NHS spends 4.2billion every year treating patients for obesity-related illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes – as well as on costly weight-loss surgery.
These include gastric band operations which costs 6,000 per patient as well as gastric bypass surgery – which splits the stomach into compartments so patients feel full more quickly – at 10,000 a time.