Brain Booster: Clara Fitzgerald

Embracing physical activity’s role fighting cognitive decline

When Clara Fitzgerald begins her address at The Alzheimer Society of Oxford’s 4th annual Brain Booster Workshop & Expo it will become abundantly clear from the onset just how important a role physical activity plays combating cognitive decline in all stages of cognitive impairment.

“I’ll base my talk on evidence-based literature from studies directing people to moderate to vigorous physical activity as an important way to ward off or delay cognitive decline,” says the Director of the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging (CCAA) at the University of Western Ontario since 2005.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released a report pointing to mounting significant evidence showing how physical and other specific types of activity help reduce the risk of cognitive decline/dementia or slow down the process. As I engage people and challenge them to move their bodies, this will be an interactive presentation.”

A recognized national presenter and educator, Clara’s primary focus is the promotion of physical activity opportunities for older adults across the spectrum of age and mobility. Passionate about the CCAA vision Research to Action – Leaders in Physical Activity and Aging, she says knowledge translation and transfer are the cornerstone of the organization’s mission.

“Research to Action help people move into action for themselves on a personal level,” she explained. “Organizations can implement this through programming and certainly deliver such information at important events like Brain Booster.”

“Families have much to learn, especially when it comes to physical activity. Evidence supports the benefits through engaging family members so there can be purposeful visits and activities. Support people can look at ways of delaying or better managing cognitive decline, possibly helping the individual at the very least functionally.”
Clara has lent her expertise in the field of physical activity by developing various publications and programs for various organizations, for example the Alzheimer Society of Ontario’s Minds in Motion initiative.

She has also contributed to the National Leadership Training guidelines for Physical Activity Leaders in the community, home care, Adult Day Programs and long-term care settings. These guidelines are recognized as the gold standard for physical activity programming for seniors by the WHO.

“I am very much looking forward to the Brain Booster Workshop & Expo in Woodstock,” Clara said. “I enjoy this kind of interaction the most, ensuring information is practical and useable and giving people the opportunity to ask me questions. 

“As I worked on development of a physical activity curriculum as an important component of the Alzheimer Society’s Minds in Motion, I’m excited about discussing this in my talk and how these programs are offered to elicit benefits we know are possible through cardio and strength activities.”

“People will see how exercise can delay the onset of cognitive decline or, if the process has already started, learn how to better manage it. They will discover practical examples and information they can include in everyday living. A practical hands-on approach is so important as is the translation of evidence-based information in a very tangible manner.

Brain Booster takes place Monday, November 4 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Goff Hall in Woodstock. The three speakers – Clara Fitzgerald, Dr. Bonnie Purcell and Bonnie Olechno will discuss how mood, mindfulness and physical activity can affect our brain health.

For more information on the free public event please call the Alzheimer Society of Oxford at 519-421-2466 or 1-877-594-2368 or email [email protected].

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Last Updated: 10/28/2019