Mar 23, 2012 1:19 PM
(NBC) - Exercising is important for your health, but not always something we're excited to do.
But what if you could sit in front of the TV and get the benefits of going to the gym?
Harvard researchers recently discovered what happens in our muscles chemically when we exercise that gives us those sought-after benefits.
Scientists say they have pinpointed the hormone in muscle cells that triggers the benefits of exercise, a kind of chemical messenger.
"The discovery of this hormone, Irisin that's released from muscle during exercise is a major scientific breakthrough," said Dr. Kevin Jon Williams, temple medical researcher.
Named Irisin after the Greek messenger goddess, researchers say the hormone has a powerful effect on white fat.
That's the fat that gets stored as calories.
"When animals or people exercise the muscle releases this hormone and it tells the fat to burn more calories," said Williams.
But that doesn't mean it's time to toss out your gym membership.
Irisin won't make muscles stronger, and it won't be tested on humans for at least a couple of years, so doctors don't know what the side effects could be.
Plus doctor Williams stresses it's not easy to turn research into reality.
"That's very difficult, it's difficult to translate scientific discoveries, even important ones, into actual useful stuff that people can use on a day to day basis," said Williams.