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Study: Running linked to extended lifespan and brain repair


Running

(NaturalNews) We don't have to be scientists to know that exercise is good for us. However, researchers at the Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa in Canada have added another item to the long list of potential health benefits of regular exercise.

They found that running triggers a particular molecule called VGF, a nerve growth factor that can help repair brain and nerve damage in mice with an unusually small cerebellum and a shorter lifespan. The cerebellum is the part of the brain important for balance and coordination.

Although more research will be needed to determine how the healing process would work in a human brain, the Canadian researchers are hopeful that their groundbreaking discovery may open new doors in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

Put on those running shoes and extend your life

In the study, published in the scientific journal Cell Reports, the researchers reported that VGF production induced by running in a wheel extended the life of mice with smaller cerebellums and difficulties in walking. Typically these mice only lived for 25 to 40 days, but when they were allowed to run, they lived for over a year, which is the normal lifespan for a mouse.

Furthermore, they discovered that the running mice had a better sense of balance, and showed increased levels of myelin production. Myelin plays a key role in a healthy brain. It is the insulating material of our nerves, and is best compared to the plastic material around electrical cables. Lose that protective layer and nerves will have difficulty carrying their messages as quickly or efficiently, resulting in a host of neurological issues.

While running improved the quality and quantity of life for the mice, they had to maintain their healthy running habit. Once the opportunity to exercise was taken away, they began to degenerate again and their lifespans shortened once more.

The positive effects of regular exercise

Dr. Picketts, a senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital and professor at the University of Ottawa, said that these findings shine a new light on the effect exercise might have on people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases, like multiple sclerosis (MS), that involve a loss of myelin or insulation of the nerve fibers.

"With multiple sclerosis, you get a lot of degeneration of the (neuron) insulation, and patients with MS go through these relapses and remissions," Picketts said. "We're really hoping that maybe if we could use VGF to limit the number of degenerations, (it would) really allow remissions to be more prevalent and longer," he added.

Last month, another study published in the journal Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, showed that exercise helped gerbils who had a stroke to recover their memory, partly though myelin repair around the neurons.

However, when Dr. Picketts and his colleagues analyzed myelin levels in healthy mice, running didn't seem to produce any significant change. These findings suggest that VGF-triggered myelin repair probably only kicks in when our brain or nerves are under attack.

"Generally, healthy people [already] have normal levels of myelin," noted Dr. Matias Alvarez-Saavedra, lead author of the study.

Of course, that doesn't mean healthy people should not exercise. Many studies have linked regular exercise to healthy brain changes such as improved memory, increased blood flow and decreased inflammation in the brain.

Sources for this article include:

MedicalNewsToday.com' target='_blank'>http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313...

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-a... target="_blank">TheGlobeAndMail.com

NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov

GlobalNews.ca

Cell.com[PDF]

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