Dr. Wendy Suzuki Boosts Brain Health with Exercise

BY: 

INSPIR SENIOR LIVING TEAM

Studies show that regular exercise offers a host of benefits to people of all ages. One benefit that speaks to Inspīr’s® philosophy of care is having the ability to exercise the brain to improve memory and thinking skills. To learn more about this topic, we welcomed New York University neuroscientist Dr. Wendy Suzuki to discuss her research and passion for brain health. Suzuki fell in love with studying the brain during her first semester of college when she took a class called The Brain and Its Potential. Taught by renowned neuroscientist Dr. Marian C. Diamond, Suzuki found the class to be unforgettable. Today, Dr. Suzuki is known for being a pioneer in neuroscience at New York University. She runs Suzuki Lab, which studies the effects of exercise on the brain.

Through her research, Suzuki has found that we can decrease our risk for dementia by 30%—just by walking. Exercise has been shown to improve cognition among those who have already received a dementia diagnosis. Dr. Suzuki is taking her research a step further to determine the optimal exercise regime required to create these positive effects.

Dr. Suzuki uses three major “themes” to address these questions. Her website explains, “First, studies in the lab are attempting to define the optimal exercise ‘prescription’ that maximally enhances learning, memory, attention, mood, and academic performance in school/university settings. Second, we are exploring the kinds of exercise that maximally improve cognition in adult populations, including baby boomers. Third, we are starting to ask how we can most effectively use physical exercise to improve mood and cognition in a number of different neurological conditions, including traumatic brain injury (TBI), Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and depression. Our long-term goal is to understand the neural mechanisms underlying these exercise-related changes in cognitive performance across these different populations and age groups.”

Additionally, Dr. Suzuki is CEO of BrainBody Inc., a cognitive analytics platform that quantifies exercise-enhanced brain functions. She is best-known for her studies of the brain areas important for memory, and her studies defining the effects of physical activity on the human brain and its cognitive functions. Dr. Suzuki is a passionate thought leader, spreading the understanding of how physical activity can change, improve, and protect your brain. She’s also a popular public speaker with the second-most popular TED talk of 2018.

Dr. Suzuki's major research interest continues to be brain plasticity. She is known for her extensive work studying areas in the brain critical for our ability to form and retain new long-term memories. More recently, her work has focused on understanding how aerobic exercise can be used to improve learning, memory, and higher cognitive abilities in humans.

During her lunch and lecture with us at Inspῑr Carnegie Hill, Dr. Suzuki homed in on the importance of exercise and brain health. Her book Healthy Brain, Happy Life speaks about the brain’s capability to change throughout our lives, and how movement offers great benefits. To emphasize her point, she brought a preserved human brain to the gallery, inspired by her first college professor, to grab the attention of participants. And, to reiterate her emphasis on the importance of exercise, she got everyone up and moving for a workout. Conveniently, she’s also an exercise instructor. Dr. Suzuki teaches IntenSati, which combines movements from kickboxing, dance, yoga, and martial arts with spoken affirmations. She uses this exercise to do her research.

Our team at Inspῑr is eager to see how Dr. Suzuki’s research will benefit people with dementia in the future, and how we can use her findings to help deliver forward-thinking exercise programs. Providing opportunities for movement based on our residents’ interests—ones that are proven to deliver optimal results—is the key ingredient to developing a plan they will stick with long term. Residents can choose to swim laps in our gorgeous pool, take a yoga class, or tend to our gardens. Whatever it may be, we are committed to helping residents find what they enjoy so they can reap the many benefits of movement.  

Check back soon to find out more about our fitness center, wellness partners, and more.