Your body isn’t exhausted from that workout?it’s your brainthat’s tired. Scientists are trying to invent a pill thatwill give you all the benefits of exercise without actuallyhaving to do it.

James Randerson writes in New Scientist that new evidenceshows that it?s our brains that make us feel tired out afterexercise. This happens in order to prevent muscle damage.This could lead to treatments for diseases like chronicfatigue syndrome, but it could also lead to newperformance-enhancing drugs for athletes.

Researcher Paula Robson-Ansley has discovered signalingmolecule called interleukin-6 that tells the brain when tosignal that we?re tired. Blood levels of IL-6 are 60 to 100times higher than normal following long exercise, andinjecting healthy people with IL-6 makes them feel tired.

Robson-Ansley’s own athletic career ended when she startedfeeling constantly tired while training for the Britishrowing squad for the 1996 Olympic games. She says, “Suddenlya [5 mile] run felt like I’d run a marathon the next day.”

Researcher Bruce Kemp is looking for a drug that willsimulate the effects of exercise. He?s unlocked thestructure of an enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinaseand says, “This enzyme is activated during exercise and itaccelerates your metabolism to make up for the energydeficit in your muscle that’s been created by exercise.” Youmay not have to do a heavy workout but “You have to do somework. There are no miracles. (The pill) will do a number ofthe metabolic and gene transcription events that are causedby exercise but it doesn’t do everything.”

What are thoseghostlyhalos we wear around our heads that reveal so much about us?

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