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:


Alcohol and Dementia: A Preventable Risk.

21 Feb

Alcohol and Dementia:

A Preventable Risk.

A study conducted by various Universities in Europe and Canada concluded that alchohol is a top risk factor for developing dementia. “Of the 57,000 cases of early-onset dementia (before the age of 65), the majority (57%) were related to chronic heavy drinking.” Intervention is necessary for those consuming excess amounts.

“The findings indicate that heavy drinking and alcohol use disorders are the most important risk factors for dementia, and especially important for those types of dementia which start before age 65, and which lead to premature deaths,” says study co-author and Director of the CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research Dr. Jürgen Rehm

What is the message here? Alcohol has a distinct affect on the body and mind. There’s a clear link between alcohol abuse and congition. Alcohol shortens your life by almost twenty years. Those suffering from chronic alcohol abuse are at a higer risk of dying from dementia. Noted in this study is the difference in men and women as well. “While the overall majority of dementia patients were women, almost two-thirds of all early-onset dementia patients (64.9%) were men.”

By far the most preventable risk factor. Intervention sooner rather than later appears to be beneficial. The study concludes that in combination of other risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes, alchohol significantly contributes to the onset of dementia.


For Further information on the study:



Dementia and Exercise

13 Feb

Dementia and Exercise

Meet John.

Personal Training Client since 2016.

At 75 years of age he suffers from “Dementia-Like” Memory Loss.

Alternate Leg Up on 1/2 Ball

Meet John 🙂 We've been working together since 2016. What you may not know is that at 75 years of age he suffers from memory loss (not specifically diagnosed as Dementia). As you can clearly see his balance and mobility is looking great on this half ball. He's an inspiration to those managing similar syptoms and those suffering Dementia-like symptoms.I'm very proud of him for remaining active. He's a pleasure to work with as he's very strong and always smiling. "He has more confidence going down the stairs. I can see it." His wife told me today.Keep up the good work John!

Posted by All Fit All Ages Gym on Tuesday, February 13, 2018

We all know it affects memory and mobility. As you can clearly see his balance and mobility is looking great on this half ball.  The Doctors haven’t specifically diagnosed John as having Dementia. I refer to it as “dementia-like”. He does have memory loss and has a hard time remembering specific details. He’s highly functional when I ask him to demonstrate an exercise. He’s been managing these issues for a few years now. His wife brought him to meet me a few years ago. Reading one of my articles in the local newspaper, she expressed to me that she wanted to help her husband.

            There’s something quite interesting about working with John. He’s fully functional. He’s fully mobile. He’s very strong. My experience taught me that I had to start with the bare basics. I wanted to examine if he’d remember specific movement patterns.

John’s Program Jan 2017

My purpose was to gradually incorportate multi-joint exercises. Why? Integrated movement with arms and legs posed more of a mental challege for John. In simple terms, I wanted to get him off machines as much as possible. Machines were a great way to develop strength. I wanted to make his brain work a little harder.

Exercise Program 2018

        Between 2017 and 2018 you can tell I’ve added a few things. If you’re not an exercise professional, some it may look like Greek to you. The purpose was to show how in fact an exercise program must evolve in order to benefit someone. Even if John didn’t have these issues, I’d still be looking for ways to challenge him. The disease is irrelevant to me quite honestly. I look at the functionality of the the individual. I seek to improve what he finds challenging or at least make it more manageable so he doesn’t decline.

        The biggest lesson I’ve learned is this. Exercise will not cure those who have Dementia. It’s unrealistic to say otherwise as an educated professional. His wife mentioned to me today, “I noticed his confidence going down the stairs. I can see it.” While it may be a small feat to you and I, what this means for John and his wife is a better quality of life. It’s truly the little things that mean the most. I must give credit to John’s wife who keeps him active on a daily basis. That’s part of his success as well.

Movement matters!

The body and mind are intimately connected. Therefore if one thing suffers, so does the other. I firmly believe in exercise for those managing neuroligcal issues such as Dementia. If your loved one is still functional and mobile , then he/she has every ability to stay that way. John could be anyone. He could be your spouse or your neighbor. He could be the bank teller or the postman. The point is that Dementia has many faces and many facets. Whomever you might be, there is hope to manage this disease. Exercise can be a big part of that.

Just look at John.