Can running help prevent MS?

Running has made the news recently with an animal study that looks at the impact it has on the brain. What did it show? Here we take a look behind the headlines.

Running mice

Research suggests that physical exercise can be good for the brain as well as promoting general health. A recent study explored these benefits further by looking at mice with damage in the part of the brain responsible for balance and movement.

Researchers found that running helped these mice live longer and promoted myelin repair. This effect was found to be linked to levels of a protein called VGF, which are boosted by exercise.

How does this relate to MS?

The study didn’t focus on MS and so can’t tell us about the protective effects of exercise. However, a recent study involving over 190,000 women has addressed this question, finding that exercise did not protect against MS.

The results could open up some interesting possibilities for myelin repair research though.

VGF and myelin repair

Increasing the levels of VGF in the brain was found to boost myelin repair in these mice. This was linked to an increase in the number of myelin making cells.

Dr David Schley is our Research Communications Manager: “It’s exciting these researchers in Canada have found that the molecule VGF can promote myelination in mice.

“We’d like to see studies involving VGF that specifically focus on MS.”

Exercise and MS

Exercise is known to have a positive impact in MS. As well as promoting general health, research has found that exercise can help manage fatigue and improve quality of life for people with MS. It can also improve particular MS symptoms, including cognitive changes, balance and walking.