Activation of AMPK and its Impact on Exercise Capacity

Sports Med. 2015 Nov;45(11):1497-509. doi: 10.1007/s40279-015-0366-z.


Activation of the adenosine monophosphate (AMP)-activated kinase (AMPK) contributes to beneficial effects such as improvement of the hyperglycemic state in diabetes as well as reduction of obesity and inflammatory processes. Furthermore, stimulation of AMPK activity has been associated with increased exercise capacity. A study published in 2008, directly before the Olympic Games in Beijing, showed that the AMPK activator AICAR (5-amino-1-β-D-ribofuranosyl-imidazole-4-carboxamide) increased the running capacity of mice without any training and thus, prompted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to include certain AMPK activators in the list of forbidden drugs. This raises the question as to whether all AMPK activators should be considered for registration or whether the increase in exercise performance is only associated with specific AMPK-activating substances. In this review, we intend to shed light on currently published AMPK-activating drugs, their working mechanisms, and their impact on body fitness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / chemistry
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Exercise Tolerance / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / enzymology
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal


  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases