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Most widely used pills that “cut” the benefits of exercise, according to study

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Widely used drugs that are often taken when allergies flare up seem to have an unexpected effect in limiting the benefits of an exercise – See what they are.

A team of researchers from the University of Copenhagen and Ghent University found that antihistamine drugs can reduce the benefits of exercise. In the study published in Science Advances, the team describes two experiments they carried out – one short-term and one large – in which the volunteers received antihistamines before starting their exercise program.

Millions of people around the world take antihistamines to relieve the symptoms of allergies. These drugs fall into two general categories, depending on the type of histamine receptors they target. Those targeting histamine H1 receptors are intended for allergy sufferers, while those targeting histamine H2 receptors are intended for the treatment of histamine problems in the intestine. In this new effort, the researchers examined the effects of both types of antihistamine therapy on volunteers who followed exercise programs.

Histamine is a chemical produced by the body for many reasons, one of which is to regulate blood flow to the muscles, especially after intense exercise. Increasing blood flow helps to repair and “build” more muscle. In this work, the researchers wanted to see what can happen if histamine production is blocked before, during or after exercise. To find it, they conducted these two experiments, with one being carried out in a single phase and the second a few weeks later.

In the first experiment, six men and two women cycled for 40 minutes without taking antihistamines. The same group of participants cycled again for the same time after taking antihistamines which blocked histamine H1 and H2 receptors. Heart rate, blood pressure and blood flow were measured in all participants.

In the second experiment, 18 men cycled – half of whom were taking antihistamines and the rest were the control group – and the same indicators were measured as those in the first experiment. The volunteers then did a six-week bike training program, with the exercise taking place three times a week. Then they repeated the exercise with the bike they had done at the beginning of the experiment.

The researchers found that blocking histamine in the first group resulted in a smaller increase in blood flow to the muscles during exercise. In the more extensive experiment, finally, the researchers found that those who had taken antihistamines experienced less improvement in exercise efficiency, blood flow or muscle development.

The results of the study showed that blocking histamine in the first group resulted in a smaller increase in blood flow to the muscles during exercise. 

In the most extensive experiment, the team found that those who took antihistamines experienced less improvement in exercise efficiency, blood flow, or muscle growth.

Image Credit: Getty

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