New ‘Exercise Pill’ Is Downright Un-American

These days, the American medical establishment has a pill for everything. Back hurts? Take a Percocet. Feeling down? Here’s a 90-day script for Zoloft. Overweight? Ozempic to the rescue! Despite being sold for years by Big Medicine as a miracle cure, all of these drugs now have well-known — and catastrophic — side effects. But there’s a new “exercise pill” on the horizon that could be worse than all three.

Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine unveiled their breakthrough at a spring meeting of the American Chemical Society, the New York Post reported. The team spent a decade researching new compounds that would “mimic the physical benefits of a work out.” So far, the drug has only proven successful in rodent cells, but the team is optimistic it could one day be used to improve metabolism and enhance muscle growth and performance. Instead of hitting the gym, we might one day be able to simply pop a pill.

However, this isn’t the researchers’ intended purpose. “We cannot replace exercise; exercise is important on all levels,” Professor Bahaa Elgendy, the project’s lead researcher, said in a press release. “If I can exercise, I should go ahead and get the physical activity. But there are so many cases in which a substitute is needed.”

Instead, the exercise pill would ideally be used to alleviate a variety of medical conditions. It could be used to counter muscle atrophy for people with conditions that prevent them from getting normal exercise, and help treat heart failure as well as neurodegenerative diseases. It also could help offset muscle degeneration that occurs naturally with age or from debilitating illnesses like cancer.

However, as the Daily Caller’s latest documentary, “SICK,” shows, Big Pharma’s miracle cures often don’t work or create the problems they aim to solve. In theory, if they worked as they said and didn’t come with negative side effects — then they would be a good thing. Who wouldn’t love a world free from pain and sadness? But with an exercise pill, we get a physiological shortcut we shouldn’t even aspire to. (RELATED: ‘SICK’: Unmasking Big Medicine | TRAILER OUT NOW)

The researchers highlight how the pill would be a supplement, not a replacement. But that will last a total of two seconds if it ever hits the market. If it works, it will obviously be abused for two reasons. Neoliberal efficiency and Instagramable hotness are the two great obsessions of our contemporary culture. An exercise pill combines both, delivering instant gratification to the masses in what would surely become a billion dollar industry. Celebrities, busy professionals and aspiring influencers would all line up to become life-long “patients” and cash cows for Big Pharma.

Additionally, even if the industry strives to prescribe it for strictly medical uses, we’ve already broadened that definition to the point of meaninglessness. With the rise of the body positivity movement, morbid obesity is already treated as a medical condition akin to Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s; it’s a debilitating disease wholly out of an individual’s control. We see it in the airline industry’s shift toward so-called inclusivity, giving “customers of size” free accommodations for their condition. We see it from a doctor on Biden’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee who argues obesity has little to do with diet and exercise. Socially conscious doctors will surely treat a patient’s desire not to exercise — mere laziness — as a medical condition to be chemically treated.

Why shouldn’t we want this? If everyone could be seamlessly be made fit and healthy, isn’t that a good thing?

The answer is unequivocally no. Exercise is about more than utility, efficiency or even physical health. In fact, viewing it as such only makes sense in a society obsessed with these things. At its core, exercise is about self-mastery and discipline, something American society used to value.

To understand this, there’s no better example than the culture of the Ancient Greeks — the root of Western civilization. In Ancient Greek society, the gymnasium held profound significance beyond mere physical exercise. The Greeks saw the gymnasium as a sacred space where both body and mind were honed through rigorous training. Wrestling, running, javelin throwing — all required more than physical prowess, but mental fortitude. One required courage, perseverance and self-control if he were to master these skills. In doing so, the Greeks learned to push their limits, confront their weakness and strive for excellence in all aspects of their life — all the virtues necessary for citizens worthy of self-government. (RELATED: New Netflix Show Makes Ancient Hero, Like, Super Gay)

Now, the great men of American history might not have all been jocks, but they all embodied the virtues that physical exercise helps to cultivate. With an exercise pill, we would lose what little of these virtues we have left, in an era where our modern culture of self-actualization — embracing your authentic self, no matter how morbidly obese —  has almost fully supplanted our traditional culture of self-discipline. This is the true boundary of our culture war.

Self-actualization might be winning the day, but self-discipline will inherently always have the upper hand. What we need is more exercise, not more excuses.