In today's "Let's Try to Reformulate Coca Cola and See What Happens" contest, we may have a winner: Prescribing stimulant drugs to people who are too lazy to exercise, so that they become less lazy and exercise more.
Yep, it's true. An article in ScienceDaily discusses just such a suggestion, which came from an endurance expert at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom.
Professor Samuele Marcora proposes that caffeine may be helpful in getting people to overcome the barrier to getting some exercise. So far, so good. A cup of Joe before hitting the gym seems perfectly reasonable. The rest? No so much.
Marcora also suggests that methylphenidate (Ritalin) and modafinil (Provigil) might also be useful. Well, they might, but so would crystal meth. All three are stimulants, although meth is much more so, not to mention illegal.
"Finding a way that makes people with very low motivation to do even moderate exercise, like walking," Prof. Marcora said, "could be particularly useful."
Being chased by Godzilla will also get you moving, but not such a swell idea either.
There is considerable controversy about the overuse (or even the use) of Ritalin and Adderall to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. Many physicians believe that these drugs are being prescribed simply to calm hyperactive kids in schools, while others believe that they're a valuable tool for helping children with real needs.
Coincidently, two topics that are germane to this discussion have been in the news.
The November 3 issue of JAMA contains a piece entitled, "Trends in Prescription Drug Use Among Adults in the United States From 1999-2012," where Elizabeth D. Kantor, PhD, and colleagues conclude that there has been a significant increase in prescription drug use, although only in some classes of drugs, during that time.
I'm all for the use of prescription drugs when they are used properly. In this case, it's a bit of a stretch. And, I can't help but wonder if there will be a drug for people who are too lazy to go to the pharmacy to pick up the drugs that will prevent them from being too lazy to exercise.