Grey matter is found in areas of the brain that are involved in muscle control, sensory perception, memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control. According to a recent study, cardiorespiratory exercise may help increase the volume of grey matter in the brain, especially as we age.
Participants in the study included 2,103 adults with an average age of 52. Their cardiorespiratory fitness was measured using peak oxygen uptake during a bicycle ergometer test. MRI’s of the brain were taken to measure grey matter volume, white matter volume, and total brain volume.
The researchers found that higher cardiorespiratory fitness was associated with higher grey matter volume and total brain volume. The higher grey matter volume was found in areas of the brain that are primarily involved in cognitive function. The association between cardiorespiratory fitness and higher grey matter volume was strongest in particpants 45 years or older. No association was found between cardiorespiratory fitness and white matter volume.
The study was conducted by researchers from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases. It was published in the January, 2020 edition of the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.