Tired of being too lazy to exercise? Well, a recent research has suggested that drugs can help lazy people with their keep-fit classes.
In what has been described as ‘doping for lazy people’ a University of Kent endurance expert has advocated the use of psychoactive drugs to encourage sedentary people to exercise.
Together with lack of time, physical exertion is one of the main perceived barriers to exercise. This is not surprising because humans evolved to be ‘lazy’, i.e. to conserve energy. Samuele Marcora suggests that reducing perception of effort during exercise using caffeine or other psychoactive drugs (e.g. methylphenidate and modafinil) could help many people stick to their fitness plans.
Whilst acknowledging that such an intervention is both drastic and controversial, Marcora points out that perception of effort is one of the main reasons why most people choose sedentary activities for their leisure time. Compared to watching television (zero effort), even moderate-intensity physical activities like walking require considerable effort. He says finding a way that makes people with very low motivation to do even moderate exercise, like walking, could be particularly useful.
Similarly, a reduction in perception of effort would be very helpful to the many people who find exercise difficult because they are overweight and/or exercise after work in a state of mental fatigue.
Marcora also states that whilst there is no strong ethical opposition to the use of psychoactive drugs to help quit smoking (nicotine) or treat obesity (appetite suppressants), the negative perception of doping in sport may prevent the use of stimulants and other psychoactive drugs to treat physical inactivity.
The study is published in the journal Sports Medicine.