Research shows that running triggers the production of a natural substance that repairs nerves. This molecule can repair myelin and is wonderful news for anyone suffering with multiple sclerosis or degenerative brain conditions. Myelin is the protective coating over nerves that becomes damaged in these diseases.

Researchers at The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa have discovered a molecule called VGF nerve growth factor, which helps to heal myelin. The research was published in the journal Cell Reports.

According to lead researcher Dr. Picketts, “We are excited by this discovery and now plan to uncover the molecular pathway that is responsible for the observed benefits of VGF. What is clear is that VGF is important to kick-start healing in damaged areas of the brain.” The research was conducted on mice. Mice that were allowed to run freely on a wheel experienced significant improvements in myelin, a better sense of balance and lived longer than sedentary mice. They had to keep exercising to maintain the benefits.

Not everyone has the strength, energy or fitness level to be able to run, but this research just highlights the importance of regular exercise. Exercise is not just for weight loss. Hopefully you are doing something active most days of the week for your overall health. Obviously it is not possible for people with advanced multiple sclerosis or other degenerative nerve conditions to exercise. This research really benefits those with early stage disease and may help to delay advancement of the disease process.

For more information on autoimmune disease such as multiple sclerosis, see my book Healing Autoimmune Disease.

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