For those of us who want to live a healthy life, we realize that exercise is important.
It certainly has played a key role in my own wellness journey with multiple sclerosis. Needless to say, I was thrilled to come across a study funded by the National Institute on Aging that found physical exercise has a profound impact on the symptoms of MS. What’s more, the researchers also discovered highly fit MS patients had far less disease-driven deterioration in the brain.
In the study, researchers observed that when an MS patient had a high level of fitness, less brain damage and deterioration was detected. MRI scans also revealed they had a greater volume of vital gray matter of the brain. Researchers from several American universities conducted the experiment involving 21 women diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS. These women were compared with 15 healthy female control subjects that matched the same age and education parameters. Fitness, cognitive function, and structural changes were measured in each participant.
To establish their fitness levels, participants rode a stationary bicycle until they reached the point of exhaustion. Throughout the test, they wore a mask that measured oxygen consumption. Cognitive functions were evaluated through a series of tests designed to access processing speed and selective attention. The third evaluation involved MRI scans of the participants, which revealed any tissue damage in their brains.
Predictably, the MS patients fared far worse than the healthy controls in the brain functioning evaluation, and their MRI scans showed more deterioration of the brain.
But the research team made a surprising discovery: aerobically fit MS patients had far fewer brain lesions compared to those who weren’t fit. The lesions in the fit patients were also smaller. This may help explain why the fitter patients scored higher on the brain functioning tests.
“We found that aerobic fitness has a protective effect on parts of the brain that are most affected by multiple sclerosis,” said Ruchika Shaurya Prakash, lead author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University. “As a result, these fitter patients actually show better performance on tasks that measure processing speed.”
Aerobic fitness also indicated less damage to brain tissue—both gray matter and white matter—in those with MS. The study found that the larger volume of gray matter was associated with highly fit MS patients, which in turn improves brain processing function.
“Even in gray matter that appeared relatively healthy, we found a deterioration in the volume in MS patients,” said Prakash. “But for some of the highest fit MS patients, we found that their gray matter volume was nearly equivalent to that of healthy controls.”
She concludes that for many years MS patients were told to avoid exercise because it was thought to exacerbate their symptoms. But they are now finding that exercise can dramatically improve overall cognitive function in those with the disease.
Personally, I’ve found the same. Along with maintaining a high-level of fitness, I also use my Brain Bundle tinctures to keep my mind sharp and clear. The bundle includes a potent and effective range of brain-enhancing botanicals, including: Lemon Balm, Lion’s Mane, Reishi, and Cordyceps.
- Ohio State University. “Exercise helps protect brain of multiple sclerosis patients, study suggests.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 February 2010. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100218141813.htm
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