PERREAULT Magazine OCT | NOV 2015 - Page 96

Perreault Magazine - 96 -

So there we were on the first day of my “Can Exercise Change Your Brain” class—me clad head to toe in my best Lulu Lemon and the students looking more than a little scared about the possibility of actually having to exercise with their professor. But once the music started, the students joined right in. The energy and enthusiasm that came from doing that affirmation-filled workout easily flowed into the academic part of the course and made this the most engaged and interactive academic course I had ever taught. In fact, the experience of teaching that class changed the way I have taught all other classes since. That wasn’t the only disruptive change that exercise caused in my career. In fact, this course made me realize that I didn’t just want to dip my proverbial toe in the waters of the neuroscience of exercise. I realized I wanted to study it full time. So over the last few years I have shifted the focus of my lab from the study of the neuroscience of memory to understanding how exactly exercise works to improve brain function.

But despite the many profound and positive changes that exercise has made in my personal life and career, I realized that the most powerful disruptive effect of exercise is found at the level of society. What the studies on the effects of exercise on brain function suggest is a new way to live and to learn. For children, it suggests that instead of taking physical education out of the classroom, we should be finding a way to integrate exercise with classroom learning to optimize the educational experience. For adults, it suggests that instead of searching for that magic pill that will make our brains work better, we should also be searching for that magic exercise regime that maximally enhanced brain function.

And finally, it suggests that starting a regular exercise program right now is the best way to enter our golden years with the strongest brain possible.

Some say that exercise is mainly for recreation or weight loss. I say that exercise is a powerfully disruptive idea that can change society as we know it today.

Wendy Suzuki, Ph.D.

Professor of Neural Science and Psychology

Center for Neural Science

New York University

Author of

Healthy Brain Happy Life:

A Personal Program to Activate your Brain and Do Everything Better”

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