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Meet the Speaker: Lindsay Nagamatsu, Ph.D.

February 20, 2020 by Exercise is Medicine

Lindsay Nagamatsu, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Kinesiology | Western University in Canada

ACSM Annual Meeting Highlighted Symposium: Exercise and Dementia: Current Evidence and Opportunities in Prevention and Treatment |  Tuesday, May 26, 2020 from 3:15-5:15pm PST

Vancouver native, Lindsay Nagamatsu, Ph.D., completed all three of her degrees (B.A., M.A. and Ph.D.) in Psychology at the University of British Columbia. If Lindsay isn't conducting research, she can be found hiking the beautiful landscape of London, Ontario, Canada or in the kitchen baking a sweet treat. This May, Lindsay will share her passion of the role exercise plays in cognition and brain health in older adults at ACSM's Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA. 

Focusing to identify strategies to improve functional independence and quality of life for the aging population, Lindsay researches the effects of exercise on cognitive function and brain health in older adults at-risk for cognitive decline. Lindsay serves as the director of the Exercise, Mobility, and Brain Health Lab, where she focuses on identifying neural correlates of fall risks and mobility issues in older adults. Her passions for a special population along with her interest in exercise as a prevention and treatment prove her to be an expert in the field practicing Exercise is Medicine! 

ACSM staff asked Lindsay a series of questions to learn more about this year's Annual Meeting, her research and what you can expect from her symposium. 

  • What are key takeaways attendees will gain from your session during ACSM’s Annual Meeting?

Attendees at my session will learn about the cognitive and brain benefits that older adults at-risk for diabetes gain from exercise. Another takeaway is that it is never too late to start – regardless of where we are starting from, we can all benefit from incorporating physical activity into our daily lives.

  • What was your initial vision for your career and how has it evolved?

I was lucky to know early on that I wanted to be a professor and I fell in love with psychology as an undergraduate student. Although I pursued graduate school in psychology, my research had a multidisciplinary spin, with collaborators in psychology, physical therapy, and medicine. What I didn’t expect was that I would become a professor in kinesiology, providing me with the opportunity to examine the benefits of exercise on not just our physical health, but also our mental and cognitive health.

  • What have been some of the significant outcomes of your research? 

My research focuses on two main questions. First, how does exercise improve cognition and brain function in both healthy and at-risk older adults? And second, what is the role of cognition in falls risk in older adults? To answer these questions, I use neuroimaging techniques (MRI and EEG) to examine the brain and then relate it to exercise, mobility, and cognitive performance.

  • What have been the most fulfilling aspects of your work?

My work has been fulfilling in many ways. Hearing from participants in our study who have personally benefited from the exercise programs that we deliver highlights the importance of the research that we do at an individual level. I also love working with students – both graduate and undergraduate. Watching them evolve as researchers is extremely rewarding.

  • How has your work changed the industry/profession?

I am not the only person to do this, but my multidisciplinary work is evidence of the power that can come from people with diverse backgrounds working together. Working in a team with experts in different areas allows us to achieve so much more than any of us could do alone.

  • What are you currently working on? How does it relate to Exercise is Medicine?

I am currently conducting an exercise intervention study to examine whether exercise can improve cognition and brain function in older adults at-risk for diabetes. This is a population that is at greater risk for physical and cognitive decline, and given that they are not yet diabetic or cognitively impaired, this represents the ideal window to potentially intervene and improve their quality of life.

  • What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?

My first job was flipping burgers at a fast food joint!

  • Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for all the work that EIM has done for increasing awareness about the benefits of exercise and their work with medical professionals, students, and the public for promoting physical activity.

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