Strengthening the Body Strengthens the Mind

Teresa Liu-Ambrose, Associate Professor, Canada Research Chair and Michael Smith Scholar began her career in Physical Therapy after graduating from the University of British Columbia in 1994.  After practicing for a couple of years in orthopaedics and sports, she returned to school to pursue her interest in exercise as a tool to prevent injury and improve quality of life. Her research was initially in sports rehabilitation and it gradually shifted into healthy aging.

Dr. Liu-Ambrose’s current research focuses on defining the role of exercise to promote healthy aging and prevent disability among older adults. Specifically, her research aims to refine the prescription of exercise to optimize both cognitive and physical function in later life. Her research has frequently been featured in the popular media such as the New York Times, Globe and Mail, and Wall Street Journal.

Dr. Liu-Ambrose’s key research contributions include: 1) introducing the concept that exercise may in fact reduce the risk of falls among older adults by improving cognitive function rather than solely by improving one’s balance and muscle strength, known as the “Central Benefit Model”; 2) highlighting the potential benefit of progressive resistance training as a strategy to promote both cognitive and brain health among otherwise healthy seniors as well as those at risk for dementia; and 3) demonstrating the positive impact of exercise on brain structure and function, including  its potential to reduce the progression of underlying brain pathology among older adults. Her work significantly shaped the OsteoFit program (, a provincial exercise program for adults with low bone mass that is offered in over 85 BC communities. In addition, as a result of Dr. Liu-Ambrose’s research, specific execise programs such as the Otago Exercise Program, is widely prescribed by geriatricians as a strategy to reduce falls among seniors, as well as the formation of the Vancouver General Hospital Falls Prevention Clinic where she serves as Research Director. She has also produced helpful videos geared towards older adults as well as health professionals on the importance of exercise training in successful aging You can see the impact on a person with stroke that her work contributes to in a video and learn more about her current projects at

When she is not in the lab, Dr. Liu-Ambrose is busy running around with her three kids to their extracurricular activities. When time allows it, she enjoys running through the trails with Ebony – a very energetic black lab; Ebony ensures that Dr. Liu-Ambrose gets her regular dose of exercise required for neuroprotection.