Running could help repair brain damage

This doesn't mean that other forms of exercise aren't as effective as running

(CNN) – We’ve been told about the benefits of jogging and running for decades. Now, research from Canada suggests that running could help repair brain damage. Ask these joggers out for mid-day run why they do it, and you’ll get plenty of good reasons.

Joggers said, “Feels great, feels awesome. I run to get healthy, so I can eat whatever I want to eat. I’m running on lunch right now, when I go back to work, I feel a lot more focused, a lot more concentrated, it helps. Running’s great.”

While runners already have a pretty good sense that going the distance has all kinds of benefits. New research at Ottawa hospital has discovered a molecule that may promote healing in the brains of those who suffer from m-s or other neurological diseases.

It happens when genetically-modified lab mice with similar neurological conditions began running on treadmills. Before they started, the mice would typically die at 25 to 40 days. If they ran, they lived for an entire year.

Dr. Dave Picketts, Ottawa Hospital said, “That running helped increase the survival of these mice to a normal life span was the eureka moment, and then we jumped on that to try to identify the molecules or the genes that were involved in increasing that life span.”

Doctor Dave Picketts says the molecule, called nerve growth factor or VGF, helps to heal the protective coating that surrounds and insulates nerve fibers.

Dr. Dave Picketts, “So we’re very excited, and now we try to use VGF and to determine if VGF can help in more classical human disorders like MS, where there is a loss of this insulation.”

Picketts says this discovery doesn’t mean that other forms of exercise aren’t as effective as running. The message is that researchers are learning more about the benefits of exercise every day.