Moreover, we would not need to shoulder the burden of guilt that many of us experience due to insufficient exercise levels. No longer would we feel
compelled to avoid looking in the mirror in the morning or avert our eyes as we drive past a health club teeming with fit and trim exercise enthusiasts.
Such guilt cannot be good for us, likely elevating the levels of stress hormones in our bloodstreams and undermining the self-confidence we depend on in so
many other spheres of life.
Of course, we would recoup even more time than the two hours we actually spend on exercising. Think how many minutes we spend every week just talking
ourselves into it, getting dressed for it, and driving to it. And what about all the after-exercise time - driving back home, showering, getting dressed
again, and then sitting in the easy chair contemplating how tired and sore we feel or congratulating ourselves on what good care we take of ourselves.
This is especially true for schools. Despite No Child Left Behind and other federal legislation that sought to focus school curricula on reading, writing,
and arithmetic, school children all over the country are still spending precious hours exercising during recess and gym, instead of hunkered down over
their textbooks augmenting their vocabularies. Thanks to the exercise pill, our children will be able to devote all their time and attention to the part of
the body that matters most, above the shoulders.
And what of the millions of exercise-related injuries that occur each year in the U.S.? According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 700,000 children
are injured each year during exercise at school, while over 1.5 million Americans visit emergency departments for injuries suffered playing sports such as
basketball, baseball, and football. Far fewer people choke on pills.
Of course, not everyone would see the exercise pill as good news. Consider the vast fitness industry. Health clubs alone generate nearly $25 billion per
year in annual U.S. revenues. Likewise, companies that manufacture
exercise equipment and apparel would also suffer. Nike alone, which generates another $25 billion in annual revenue, would need to develop new product
lines beyond physical fitness and sports.
And even where such industries survived, they might be compelled to do a good bit of retooling. Over the past few decades, many clothing manufacturers have
allowed their sizing criteria to expand with the US waistline, so that what was once an extra-large is now a large, and what was once a large is now a
medium. With what would undoubtedly be widespread and immediate adoption of the exercise pill, the market for larger sizes would likely evaporate virtually
There might be additional collateral damage. For example, would the dramatic decline in personal engagement in exercise cause interest in professional
sports to decline? Would fans who no longer played basketball, baseball, or football -- and especially potential fans who had never done so -- take as much
interest in the exploits of once-favorite players and teams in the NBA, MLB, and NFL?