Training isn’t only way to increase endurance, new research shows
3 May 2017
New research published in the journal Cell Metabolism reveals training is just one way athletes could increase their endurance.
Typically to improve performance, a runner will train – thereby increasing the length of time they can stay active with each run they complete.
Now, however, researchers believe better performance can also be achieved using a small molecule to stimulate a pathway in the brain that is activated by training.
Researcher Ronald Evans, director of the Gene Expression Laboratory at the Salk Institute, said: "What we illustrate in this paper is that if you want to move ‘the wall’ there is more than one way to do so."
He added that 'hitting the wall' only happens when your brain can no longer get enough glucose, which it relies on for energy.
An experiment revealed that using a small-molecule drug to activate a transcription factor called PPARδ in the muscles of sedentary mice not only increased fat oxidation in muscle, but it also forestalled the effects of hypoglycemia, or loss of blood glucose, on the brain, the researchers said.
As a result, the mice that had been given the drug were able to increase the length of time they could run before hitting the wall - from 160 to 270 minutes - despite having no training to improve their endurance, the researchers added.
"With this research, you can begin to think about how a therapeutic that confers the advantages of fitness could help people gain health benefits. The greater potential is essentially unlimited,” Evans said.