For years, health advocates have urged the public to abandon their sedentary lifestyle and adopt a more active daily routine. Recently, a new research has found that exercising, particularly running, has a new benefit. According to the study, running can help prevent diseases like Multiple Sclerosis.
“It came around serendipitously,” admitted Dr. David Picketts, a senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital studying brain development and intellectual impairment. The study said that running helps release VGF, a molecule that heals the protective coating of the brain and insulate nerve fibers.
Researchers Find That Sedentary Mice Die Early
The main purpose of this coating, called myelin, is to propagate the speed at which neural signals travel. This research opens a new doorway on the treatment of patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, and other neurodegenerative illnesses, reported i News.
Involved in the study were genetically-modified mice, which have a small cerebellum, the region of the brain responsible for balance and movement. Researchers observed that the rodents had trouble walking and only lived up to 25-40 days if they were sedentary.
However, when the mice were given an opportunity to run freely on the wheel their lifespan increased to over 12 months – the typical lifespan for rodents. They also showed healthier weight and gained a better sense of balance compared to those living a sedentary life.
Only when they were actively running on the wheel did they acquire this benefit. If the wheel was removed, the symptoms came back and the mice succumbed to death before living out the rest of their lifespan.
Researchers Gains Grant From VGF Study
When looked closely what was going on inside their brain, researchers found that the active mice gained a significant amount of insulation around their cerebellum. VGF was deemed as the main cause behind the benefit, reported Metro News.
This find mirrors past studies regarding exercise and how it improves motor and cognitive functions in patients who are suffering from neurodegenerative diseases. Young as the study is, the researchers are thrilled with its results.
“We are excited by this discovery and now plant to uncover the molecular pathway that is responsible for the observed benefits of the VGF,” expressed Picketts. He went on to add that VGF is clearly a significant factor in kick-starting the healing process in damaged regions of the brain.
While the research only involved mice, the result is promising enough that Picketts and his team received a grant from the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and the Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery. The next step for the researchers is to find out whether VGF can be induced in humans via drugs or by itself to see the extent of the benefit mentioned.