Natural substance may enhance exercise benefits

(Edmonton) A natural compound found in some fruits, nuts and red wine may enhance exercise training and performance, according to newly published medical research from the University of Alberta.

Principal investigator Jason Dyck and his team found in lab experiments that high doses of the natural compound resveratrol improved physical performance, heart function and muscle strength in lab models.

“We were excited when we saw that resveratrol showed results similar to what you would see from extensive endurance exercise training,” says Dyck, who works in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry as a researcher in the departments of pediatrics and pharmacology. “We immediately saw the potential for this and thought that we identified ‘improved exercise performance in a pill.’”

The team’s findings were published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Physiology in late May.

Dyck and his team will soon start starting testing resveratrol on diabetic patients with heart failure to see whether the natural compound can improve their heart function. The 10-week study is expected to start within the next few months.

“I think resveratrol could help patient populations who want to exercise but are physically incapable. Resveratrol could mimic exercise for them or improve the benefits of the modest amount of exercise that they can do,” says Dyck. “It is very satisfying to progress from basic research in a lab to testing in people, in a short period of time.”

The research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Dyck is a senior scholar with Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions and the director of the Cardiovascular Research Centre at the U of A. He is also a member of both the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute and the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute.