How Diverse, Natural Movements Can Lead To Cognitive Fitness

Today’s fitness industry looks at exercise as a means of improving and maximizing performance. 

We see large biceps and stronger legs as indicators of a healthy body. 

This pushes us to have a compartmentalized view of movement that focuses on specialized activities, where we have a leg day or a chest day. 

But having a gym or simple fitness-oriented view limits your ability to be resilient, to be well-rounded. Basically it limits the potential of the exercises to challenge your cognitive abilities.

Compare that with how “we” used to move, for example, our hunter-gatherer ancestors. 

Their movement isn’t just about working on one muscle group, one routine. A diverse and varied range of movement triggers brain engagement. It allows our brains to grow and mature new neurons leading to better memory health.

This mindset about exercise and movement needs to change. 

It’s no longer about intensity. Having an awareness of the unique and challenging demands we can impose on our bodies to squeeze out more opportunities for neurogenesis is key. If we understand how neurogenesis works and how to prompt it, we have a better chance of preventing avoidable memory loss.  

Our brains can continue to build and maintain a rich network of neurons if we understand how the human body as an organism works. We have the chance to tap into this power if we want to.

The truth is, we are meant to create and live a formidable life.

In this show you’ll learn about:

  • How we can squeeze more out of physical exercise by adding cognitive aspects to leverage neurogenesis
  • Putting stress on the body through unique and challenging demands
  • The phenomenon of movement poverty increasing our risks of sedentary dementia

To Grow Your Brain Skills To Their Potential You Need These 9 Things In Your Life


In today’s show, you will learn how to combine cognitive aspects to physical exercise to leverage neurogenesis and build a rich and dense hippocampus resilient to change.

Listen To The Podcast Now.

About Our Guest

About Our Guest

Matt Rutley is a natural movement specialist in Australia. He is a bush skills instructor and the owner and head coach of health and fitness center, Stage Six. As one of the leading experts on moving your body the way it was designed to move, he has worked with clients of all ages including sporting teams, professionals, and Olympic athletes. 

The Case for Neurogenesis

Getting Interested In Functional Movement Exercise and Its Role

  • Matt shares his childhood of doing a lot of physical and mental work, and his exposure later on to physical training. 
  • Opening his own gym to give people the opportunity to do the things he was doing as a child led him to realize the backward approach to physical fitness and health.
  • Diving into research into the human organism led to more questions.
  • Our physical and mental well-being aren’t separate.

What Is Critical To Be Able To Navigate Our Will

  • We are the drivers to fixing our problems.
  • Having an inquisitive mind is important to understand why our body works and reacts to certain ways.
  • If you don’t impose a demand on your body, it will not get good at it. This is the principle Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands (SAID). 
  • Your body adapts to what you ask it to adapt to.
  • Be specific about what you want, why you need it, and how the two correlate.
  • Have an awareness of our physical capabilities and an understanding of what you want.

How To Get Better Transference In Life

  • There are different kinds of fitness. 
  • We need to have a sustainable approach when it comes to exercise rather than being on edge all the time just to maximize performance.
  • Most people don’t really have a good idea of whether they might be able to do something.
  • Movement is the reason our brains exist. Exercise boosts brain activity. 

Leveraging Movement To Boost Our Hippocampus

  • Movements that are complex and adaptive maximize neurological engagement.
  • The lack of disease in Blue Zones and hunter-gatherer populations. 
  • Challenging ourselves more each time rather than getting used to a routine allows us to squeeze a bit more of the opportunities.
  • Gamification and play-based activities provide a huge opportunity though there is resistance because of people’s perception that exercise is punishment.
  • Changes happen when we put our body under stress to push the limits.
  • Stress signals changes in our body. But too much stress leads to injury.
  • Stress applied should be about purpose and application instead of reinforcing the no pain, no gain mindset. 
  • Understanding why you need to go through that struggle allows you to be informed about the type of struggle and dosage needed. 

The Problem With Mundane, Everyday Tasks

  • Movements that are complex and adaptive maximize neurological engagement.
  • If you have only one challenge, your body gets used to it. 
  • To be adaptable, we have to constantly shift the goalpost.
  • High-intensity training essentially works to outdo inactivity, but the intensity is too much.
  • It’s better to spread out burning calories throughout the day in many different ways and with different stimuli and tasks. This is why people during our hunter-gatherer era are healthier.

Do the things that you want to do for life. The only way you’re going to get better at them is to do them. Click To Tweet

Lowering The Risks For Sedentary Dementia

  • Use an app to set a timer to get up and stretch.
  • Uprooting ourselves entirely from our comfort zones would only make our bodies resistant to change.
  • As our body adjusts, add a new demand that you can layer on. 
  • Adding variety such as changing the route or adding a different range of motion will add a new demand.
  • Be brutally honest, practical, and realistic when goal setting. 
  • Aim for consistency and frequency.
  • Cast a lens around a 6-8 out of 10 level of challenge to drive neuroplasticity or brain change. 
  • We are meant to be very formidable for life. 

Harness the Power of Neurogenesis

  • Do the things you want to get better at. 
  • Things will only get worse if you don’t do anything.
  • Be patient with your body, work with it rather than against it.
  • There’s no magic bullet, but there’s a magic process.

Previously Recommended Resources


  • Psychobiotics in mental health, neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders 

Cheng et al, (2019)

  • Melancholic microbes: a link between gut microbiota and depression? 

Prof T. G. Dinan  & Prof. J. F. Cryan:


This book explains how memory works and the changes that occur as we age. 

You can reach out to Matt on his website to get an idea of the whole range of things they do. 


Enjoy The Podcast?

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Here’s How:  Take a screenshot of the podcast, post it on social media, make a comment and link to the show, is one, very easy way to help cement your learning and brings you closer to action as well as gifting to others the seeds of better memory health! 

FREE Guide To Help Prevent Memory Loss

Grab a free copy of the 9 Principles for Memory Health For Life CLICK HERE.  A simple framework to reduce your risk for memory loss. Go on, what have you got to lose?  

Of course you can reach me, David Norris, here on the website and connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter.


To better memory health, 


P.S. Did you get the free guide?  If not, here’s the link.

Disclaimer: The purpose of Memory Health Made Easy Podcast is to educate and to inform. It is no substitute for professional care by a doctor or qualified professional. This podcast is provided on understanding that it does not constitute medical or personal professional advice or services. Instead, we would encourage you to discuss your options with a health care provider who specialises in your particular needs.