Treating people with erythropoietin could increase motivation
Most of us want to exercise – who doesn’t want to be fit? – but that’s not enough to keep us at it so we give up after we’ve barely broken into a sweat. But according to researchers from the University of Zurich in Switzerland there may be a solution: a hormone called erythropoietin.
Using mice to ascertain the effects of the hormone, the researchers gave one group no treatment at all, while a second group was injected with human erythropoietin, and a third group was genetically modified to produce human erythropoietin themselves. The mice were then enticed to run and their ‘performance’ assessed. Both groups who had erythropoietin, naturally or injected, had significantly higher running performance, when compared to the mice who’d had no treatment at all.
The researchers aren’t sure why or how the hormone has this effect, but they hypothesise that it may have a general effect on mood – in a mouse or a human – and so encourages more enthusiasm for the task in hand, in this case running. They believe this finding might be key to helping to prevent obesity. “If you can’t put exercise in a pill, maybe you can put the motivation to exercise in a pill instead,” said Gerald Weissman, editor-in-chief of the FASEB journal, in which the study was published.