DNA damage is a common feature of neurodegenerative illnesses, and the ability to repair DNA strand breaks and lesions is crucial for neuronal survival, reported by Jeppesen et al (Prog Neurobiol. 2011;94:166–200) and Shiwaku et al (Curr Mol Med. 2015;15:119–128). Interventions aimed at repairing these lesions, therefore, could be useful for preventing or delaying the progression of disease. One potential strategy for promoting DNA damage repair (DDR) is exercise. Although the role of exercise in DDR is not understood, there is increasing evidence that simple physical activity may impact clinical outcomes for neurodegeneration. Here, we discuss what is currently known about the molecular mechanisms of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and how these mechanisms might influence the DDR process.