TAKE THE HIGH ROAD

Men's Health (UK) - - In This Issue -

A run­ner’s high boosts more than your mood: it could put the breaks on men­tal de­cline

As a reg­u­lar reader of Men’s Health, you’re likely aware that get­ting off your glutes and go­ing for a run has merit beyond burn­ing a few ex­tra calo­ries. The listed ben­e­fits of bipedal car­dio in­clude the growth of new neu­rons, and im­proved learn­ing and mem­ory.

A new study by sci­en­tists at the Univer­sity of Ottawa is the lat­est to of­fer proof that what’s good for the body is great for the mind. Their re­search into a lit­tle-known brain chem­i­cal sug­gests that, as well as adding mileage to your pow­ers of rec­ol­lec­tion, a long week­end run can help to un­ravel the dam­age of a week well lived.

They per­formed tests on mice with a ge­netic dys­func­tion in the cere­bel­lum – the part of the brain re­spon­si­ble for the con­trol of phys­i­cal move­ment – that caused them to walk around in a laboured way, as well as de­creas­ing their life­spans. How­ever, mice that were reg­u­larly put on

a tread­mill ex­pe­ri­enced a marked in­crease in a chem­i­cal called VGF (no, it doesn’t stand for any­thing), trig­ger­ing ‘pos­i­tive in­fra­struc­ture re­pair’ to brain tis­sue that helped them move more eas­ily and live sig­nif­i­cantly longer.

The re­searchers ad­mit that they haven’t quite fig­ured out how VGF works, or even ex­actly what it is. But the chem­i­cal is be­lieved to have an an­tide­pres­sant ef­fect, linked to the re­lease of nat­u­ral opioids that pro­vide you with a run­ner’s high af­ter an hour or more of steady-state ef­fort. Which should be suf­fi­cient to run off last night’s ex­tra bot­tle of red.

LACE UP TO KEEP YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME FOR LONGER

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