What’s the Matter? How Exercise Affects Brain Function

22 Feb

What’s the Matter?

How Exercise Affects Brain Function.

Exercise is something to keep in mind.

What is white matter? How on earth does it connect to the brain? Well, according to an article written b

         In essence white matter is what connects the nerve fibres in the brain. In a way, its how nerves speak to each other. I’ve researched a few articles here which I’ll attach as a link at the end of the article. I’m passionate about sharing information about exercise and it’s effects on neurological disease. What I learn can be shared with you.

Squat to stand w/knee to hand

Here's John and I 🙂 He manages symptoms of memory loss. We have worked together since 2016. Here's an exercise I designed to help challenge John in order to remember a new pattern of movement. Thanks for watching!

Posted by All Fit All Ages Gym on Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The above video is me working with a client who has memory loss. The goal with this exercise is to challenge the brain responsible for learning new patterns. John struggles with this exercise at first. He doesn’t understand how to connect the directions I’m giving with his actions. You’ll see me use touch to demonstrate what part of the body I need him to use. When I hold my hand up, I need him to touch my hand with his knee.

I learned there is a distinction between Dementia and MCI (mild cognitive impairment). What I learned is that Dementia has a far more disruptive and destructive effect on the brain. MCL is noted to not interefere with functionality and the ability to take care of yourself. I wonder if this is what my client could be classified as. It was important for me to learn the difference in order to help those I work with. John is highly functional. He can demonstrate an exercise, yet struggles to explain what he’s doing.

One study was based on those with MCI. A University  in Texas wanted to measure the connection between the integrity of white matter, cognitive ability and cardiorespiratory fitness. In simple terms, what is the connection between one’s cardiovascular strength and memory. Those suffering from MCL are also noted to have a higher risk of this disease if there’s a history of cardiovascular disease in the family. Hence the link between cardiovascular ability and white matter in the brain.

Cardiovascular Strength linked to stronger white matter.

For their investigation, Prof. Ding and her colleagues recruited 81 participants aged 65, on average. Of these, 55 were people with amnestic MCI and 26 were healthy individuals without MCI (the controls).

The team assessed the participants’ cardiorespiratory fitness by measuring their maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) during an aerobic exercise test.”

Those who have MCI vs. healthy individuals were assessed on their cardiovascular output. A scan was conducted on all participants in order “to assess the integrity of the nerve fibers that make up the white matter in the brain.” With this particular scan, researches get a sense of white matter fibres that may have deteriorated in certain parts of the brain.

The results showed that the MCI patients and the healthy controls had no differences in global white matter fiber integrity and VO2max. However, closer examination showed that lower aerobic fitness was linked to weaker white matter in some parts of the brain.

 It is suggested that those with a lower V02 Max suffered from weaker white matter in parts of the brain. This can lead to memory impairment. If we’re keeping it really simple, there’s a distinct link between cardiovascular health and white matter. The stronger your heart, the stronger the mind. At least this is what the study suggests.

Why does it matter?

There’s far more to the story but the lesson is this. Studies have concluded the benefit of cardio exercise in the prevention of Alzheimers, Dementia and MCL. It increases the strength of the white matter fibres in your brain. The connections between these nerves act as signals to your brain.

I’ll sum it up like this:

Exercise Strengthens The Connection Between Body and Mind

Strong cardiovascular strength= strong white matter.

Strong white matter = strong nerve connections.

 Strong nerve connections =  strong signal to your brain.

Strong signal to your brain = strong memory function


Study Referenced in my blog:


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