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Can Exercise Boost Brain Function?

Can Exercise Boost Brain Function? Yes, According To Neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki

For internationally renowned researcher and neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki, learning how exercise affects the brain has been a groundbreaking experience. In this blog post we want to share with you some of the science behind how working out boosts your mood and memory. The research touches on how this may also extend to protecting your brain against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's – is it possible?


First though, who is Wendy Suzuki?

Wendy Suzuki is a Neuroscientist who has dedicated her whole career to studying the brain and memory in her lab located at New York University’s Center for Neural Science. According to Suzuki, in an article published on the Johns Hopkins University website, as she approached the age of 40, she could feel that something was amiss in life. The bulk of her time, mentally and physically, was dedicated to carrying out research while her social and personal life was suffering.

Suzuki, an associate professor of neuroscience, muses that while we all know our lives are much more complicated than a scientific experiment, and even with certain parts of life being very rich and rewarding, other aspects of life can be very isolating and impoverished. In Suzuki’s case, she was referring to the lackluster aspects of her social life.

“So, I looked at that and I saw myself not doing anything, and I saw myself getting weak physically and knew that had to change."

She further goes on to state that; "My lifelong science interest is in how much the brain can change in response to the environment, that’s why I got into research in the first place."

Wendy continued by saying that she was intrigued by how the brain could grow and expand, making new neural connections in a new and interesting environment, while the opposite could be the case if you remove the important aspects of it.


Brain Health and Exercise

According to Suzuki, this is as much as we know; there is a large amount of data to support the link that in humans, the more exercise you have, the lesser the chances of you developing dementia at a certain age. Thus, if you’ve been exercising, you may be less likely to develop dementia by 60. This does not in anyway suggest that exercise is a cure for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, rather, it may make the brain stronger and thus more resilient to neurodegenerative diseases.

Thanks to studies in animals, we know how this happens – it promotes the growth of new brain cells in a vital structure called the hippocampus, which is significant for long-term memory. Exercise may also help boost the levels of helpful growth factors in your brain.



This finding comes at a critical time in our understanding of brain health. According to an article published in The Harvard Health Blog researchers estimate that one new case of dementia is detected every four seconds around the world. By 2050, the estimate is that more than 115 million people will have dementia worldwide.

She also mentioned that there have been in-depth studies into exercise for the elderly population. There is a strong link that exercise may aid executive functions in ageing people and improve memory function for people with dementia.


How Much Exercise Do We Need?

A lot of people ask how much exercise they need to get. This question is actually very common and in response, Suzuki tells them that unfortunately, there is not an exact figure or number for it.

We are all curious about how much exercise is enough but there is no certain formula that says you need this much exercise. You could aim for 2-3 sessions per week and in general, take the more active choice: walk to work, take the stairs, stretch regularly. 


What This TEDtalk Now By Wendy Suzuki


Watch Now: Wendy Suzuki at TEDWomen 2017.


What about exercise and chiropractic?

So, you have a lower back injury, perhaps you suffer from sciatica or joint pain. Chiropractors commonly help with these types of issues, and more. Think about it like this: if you are in pain and not able to bend and move freely you probably can’t exercise or play sport like you want to. This lack of exercise may therefore not allow you to enjoy the benefit that exercise has on brain health, as discussed in this article.

Your injuries, often preventable and in many cases easily helped by regular chiropractic care, may be preventing you from reaching your full health potential.

Given that there is a strong link between exercise and brain health, you want to be doing everything you can to ensure you keep moving, and say active.

At The Back Clinic, we want the best for you and your health – let us help you to maximise your potential by keeping your spine flexible and your biomechanics optimal.

To find out more about chiropractic, exercise and how we may help you to reach your potential, contact our friendly team of professional chiropractors today.


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-Dr. Omar Ayouby (Chiropractor)

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