In today’s TED video we hear a neuroscientist (that’s a doctor who specializes in the brain) talk about exercise. Why? Because she has discovered that exercise is the best things for the human brain! It has so many benefits that are long-lasting and can make our life better.

You already knew that exercise could make your body healthier, but now you’re about to learn that it can give you a better brain, too!

Watch the Video

Ok, first off I’d like you to watch Dr. Suzuki’s video. It’s really interesting! Don’t worry about words that you don’t understand. If you really need to, you can turn on subtitles by clicking the icon next to volume. Make notes, learn, and enjoy! 🙂


Listening Practice

Skip ahead to 05:33 in the video and try to fill in the blanks below. Oh, and I included one difficult answer – number 5. 😉  (Answers at the bottom of the page.)

Maybe all that exercise that I had included and added to my life was _____1____. Maybe I did an experiment on myself without even knowing it. So as a curious neuroscientist, I went to the literature to see what I could find about what we knew about the_____2_____ on the brain. And what I found was an exciting and a growing literature that was essentially showing everything that I noticed in myself. Better mood, better energy, better memory, ______3______. And the more I learned, the more I realized how powerful exercise was. Which eventually led me to the big decision to completely shift my _____4_____. And so now, after several years of really focusing on this question, I’ve come to the following conclusion: that exercise is the _______5_______ that you can do for your brain today for the following three reasons.

Ok, and now skip to 09:42 and listen until 10:19. Mark the following as TRUE or FALSE:

  1. You need to get 3-4 exercise sessions of less than 30 minutes each.
  2. Aerobic exercise means increasing your heart rate.
  3. You need to get an expensive gym membership.
  4. Household chores are sometimes as good as gym activities.


The topic of exercise, health, and sport could appear at any stage in the IELTS exam, and is quite common in the speaking test. Here’s an example from part one:

Q: Do you think you get enough exercise?

A: Erm… I probably don’t get as much as I should, but I’m not totally lazy. I walk to school each day and I occasionally play basketball.

For part 2, you may be asked to describe a sport or sportsperson you admire. Here’s how I would answer it:

I also have a mega-list of IELTS speaking questions about sport. I won’t repeat them here, but check them out when you have time.

IELTS Life Skills

This video is useful not just for listening practice. One of the reasons that I started this website was because I found so much value in TED talks. They are fascinating, right?

Often, TED talks can teach us important life skills, and I try to choose ones that might help my readers with their IELTS exam, too. So… what can we learn from Wendy Suzuki’s informative speech?benefits of exercise on brain health

Well, my first impression is that exercise is important in IELTS preparation. Who could’ve guessed that?!

According to Dr. Suzuki, exercise can improve our concentration and memory. This is really important for so many things, including IELTS preparation. So many students prepare for exams by studying indoors all day, but if you go outside and do sport for 30-60 minutes, it might just help you retain more information.

(By the way, we have another lesson about the benefits of sport!)


The title of today’s lesson contains the word “brain-changing”. Did I just say “word”, as in one word? Yes! When a word is hyphenated, it counts as just one word. You need to remember that for the IELTS reading exam, especially.

Here are some others:

  • fifty-two
  • well-kept
  • fine-tuned
  • sci-fi

Whenever you use a hyphenated word, it counts as just one word, not two!


  1. changing my brain
  2. effects of exercise
  3. better attention
  4. research focus
  5. most transformative thing


  1. F – you need to do at least 30 minutes each time
  2. T
  3. F – you don’t need to get a gym membership
  4. T (she mentioned vacuuming, which is a chore)