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A Drug That Mimics the Effects of Exercise Helps Mice Lose Weight

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One day, exercise might be a drug you can pick up at the pharmacy. Researchers from the University of Southampton in the U.K. have developed a molecule that mimics the effects of exercise at the cellular level, tricking cells into thinking they have run out of energy. 

In mice, this molecule, called compound 14, inhibits a metabolism enzyme. This triggers a cellular energy sensor called AMPK, causing the cells to increase their metabolism and uptake of glucose. The cells think they’ve run out of energy, as if the body had been exercising.

As described in the journal Chemistry and Biology, this molecular form of exercise didn’t have much of an impact on normal mice, who had steady glucose and weight levels even when treated with the compound. But for obese mice fed a high-fat diet, the compound lowered above-average glucose levels down to normal, and caused them to lose about 5 percent of their body weight. The researchers suggest the molecule could become a treatment for obesity and type 2 diabetes in humans, allowing diabetics to regain control of their glucose levels.

However, even if the treatment translates to humans, it may not be a panacea for obesity rates, as studies find that eating fewer calories has a bigger impact on weight loss than exercise. And how drug-induced cellular exercise affects other health factors normally associated with hitting the gym, like reduced dementia risk, has yet to be seen. But we can all dream of a future where diabetes (which affects 9 percent of the U.S. population) is easily treatable with an exercise pill. And maybe one day there will be a pill to help lazy Netflixers get fake exercise, too. 

[h/t: Washington Post]

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Health
This New Gym Is Dedicated to Working Out Your Face
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You might have a workout routine dedicated to sculpting your abs and pecs, but are you ignoring your buccinators? What about your risorius? These muscles are often left out of strength training programs because instead of supporting the body parts that do a lot of heavy lifting, they're located in the face. But a UK-based beauty journalist thinks it's time we give our 40 facial muscles the attention they're due. As Fast Company reports, Inge Theron is bringing FaceGym—a spa and fitness center built around facial health and beauty—to New York City.

Theron launched her first FaceGym in London two years ago. After searching for a way to treat sagging, tired skin and finding only botox and surgery, she was inspired to offer something new. At FaceGym, clients have an assortment of facial workouts to choose from. Sessions may include an exercise routine followed by a facial massage courtesy of one of the gym's trainers. Other treatments include face masks, electrical muscle stimulation, laser sculpting, and frozen CO2 shots. "Workouts" range in price from $70 to $550.

Working out your face may have value beyond a quirky fitness trend. According to a study published earlier this year in JAMA Dermatology, middle-aged women who followed an exercise routine of certain facial movements over a few months ended up looking about three years younger. As we age, the fat pads behind our skin start to lose mass, resulting in saggy faces. The new research shows that building muscle in the face fills these areas, providing a non-invasive facelift.

FaceGym plans to open their Manhattan location in September, with more locations in the UK and the U.S. in the works.

[h/t Fast Company]

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environment
Good for You, Good for the Environment: 'Plogging' Combines Jogging With Picking Up Trash
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If you can’'t motivate yourself to maintain a jogging habit for your own sake, try doing it for the sake of the planet. That's the thinking behind plogging: an eco-friendly Swedish fitness trend that's made its way to the U.S.

As Mashable reports, plogging (a mash-up of "jogging" and the Swedish word plocka, meaning "to pick") is simply going for a jog and picking up any litter you see along your route. The trash-collecting portion of the activity requires some bending and squatting, which adds variety to your workout routine. And at the end of your run, your neighborhood is a cleaner place for its residents—human and animal alike.

Improperly discarded trash can seriously hurt and even kill wildlife if it's ingested. Cities can hire people to clean up excess litter, but it comes at a high cost. According to a 2013 story in the Los Angeles Times, communities in California spend close to half a billion dollars a year keeping litter out of waterways.

Plogging alone won't solve the world’s litter problem, but if every jogger suddenly became a plogger, that would be a huge step in the right direction. Looking for a way to jump on the trend? The fitness app Lifesum now includes a plogging option for users.

[h/t Mashable]

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