MetroFocus: March 25, 2020

MTA FACING “FINANCIAL CALAMITY”

SUBWAY RIDERSHIP DOWN 80%

SERVICE CUTS GO INTO EFFECT WEDNESDAY

FUTURE OF CAPITAL PLAN “UP IN THE AIR”

As ridership plummets on the subway, buses and commuter rail lines, Stephen Nessen, WNYC transportation reporter, reports on the MTA’s request for a $4 billion federal bailout, as well as what safety measures being implemented to protect the safety of riders and transit workers.

Nessen breaks down the declining ridership numbers that has now prompted MTA Chairman Pat Foye to announce cuts to day-to-day service, to go into effect on Wednesday.

Nessen explains that the corresponding drop in “fare box” revenue is likely to have dire consequences for the MTA’s already “precarious” finances.  There’s also uncertainty about the future of the $51 billion capital plan unveiled last year. “That’s a big mystery”, explained Nessen. “We’re all waiting to find what happens to this big capital plan. Before the crisis, the MTA was making some of the biggest plans it’s ever made to modernize the subways. Now it’s very much in the air”

In a New York Times Op-Ed this week, Foye renewed his call for the federal government to step in with a $4 billion bailout for the MTA.

For more on the latest MTA service cuts, check the MTA website .

The  NJ Transit website is also posting schedule changes.

THE BRAIN-BODY CONNECTION DURING THE COVID -19 OUTBREAK

Dr. Wendy Suzuki, Professor of Neural Science and Psychology at New York University’s Center for Neural Science, joins us to discuss the importance of maintaining your brain health during the coronavirus outbreak.

Aired on March 25, 2020. 

TRANSCRIPT

THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALYNN WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY --

> HELLO, I'M RAFAEL P. ROMAN.

YOU KNOW, LIKE YOU AT HOME, WE HERE AT 'METROFOCUS' ARE PRACTICING SOCIAL DISTANCING DURING THIS CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC.

NEVERTHELESS, WE ARE COMMITTED TO BRINGING YOU THE MOST IMPORTANT STORIES AFFECTING OUR COMMUNITY.

TONIGHT WE ARE LOOKING AT HOW THE CRISIS IS IMPACTING OUR PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM ECONOMICALLY.

IS THE MTA FACING A FINANCIAL CALAMITY?

JOINING US NOW IS WYNC THE TRANSPORTATION REPORTER.

STEVEN, THANKS FOR JOINING US.

THE FIRST QUESTION, BEFORE WE GET TO THE ECONOMICS, WHAT'S THE STATUS, THE GENERAL STATUS OF BUSES AND SUBWAYS?

ARE THEY STILL RUNNING ON REGULAR SCHEDULE?

YEAH, AS A MATTER OF FACT, THE TRAINS ARE ABSOLUTELY RUNNING ON A REGULAR SCHEDULE.

BUSES ARE DOING THEIR BEST TO KEEP A REGULAR SCHEDULE BECAUSE THE ROADS ARE SO EMPTY RIGHT NOW.

BUSES CAN RUN MUCH EASIER THAN NORMAL.

SO THEY NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY CAN STAY ON THE REGULAR SCHEDULE.

BUT METRO-NORTH, LONG ISLAND RAILROAD ARE RUNNING ON REGULAR SCHEDULE.

THEY ARE WORKING HARD TO ENSURE THAT FIRST RESPONDERS, NURSES, PEOPLE WHO ARE PROVIDING ESSENTIAL GOVERNMENT SERVICES, THOSE KINDS OF FOLKS, CAN CONTINUE TO USE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION TO GET AROUND DURING THIS CRISIS.

BUT WHAT'S THE RIDERSHIP LIKE ACTUALLY?

I MEAN, ALMOST EVERYONE AND ALMOST EVERYTHING LOCKED DOWN.

WHO IS RIDING THE SUBWAY NOW OR THE BUS?

YEAH, IT IS -- THE DROP IN RIDERSHIP IS INCREDIBLE.

METRO-NORTH HAS SEEN A 90% DROP IN RIDERSHIP.

THAT MEANS ONLY 10% OF THE REGULAR CUSTOMERS ARE STILL GOING.

LONG ISLAND RAILROAD IS DOWN 60%, 70%. SUBWAYS ARE DOWN AS WELL.

INCREDIBLE NUMBERS.

80% OF THE RIDERSHIP IS DOWN.

BUSES ARE ABOUT MAYBE 50.

THOSE NUMBERS ARE GOING UP EVERY DAY AS FEWER AND FEWER PEOPLE LEAVE THEIR HOMES.

I SHOULD SAY THE CITY DID AN INTERESTING ANALYSIS OF TURNSTILE DATA AND FOUND IN MANHATTAN THAT'S THE BIGGEST DROP IN RIDERSHIP.

SOME OF THE OUTER BOROUGHS, DEEPER IN THE BRONX AND QUEENS AND BROOKLYN, THE RIDERSHIP DROP HAS NOT BEEN QUITE AS SETEEP AS THE CENTER OF MANHATTAN.

YOU HAVE SEEN THE PHOTOS OF TIMES SQUARE.

NOBODY IS THERE.

IT'S NOT SO EVENLY DISTRIBUTED BY THE RIDERSHIP IS INCREDIBLY DOWN.

AND THE MTA VERY CONCERNED ABOUT FARE BOX REVENUE WHICH IS NOT THE LARGEST SOURCE OF FUNDING, BUT A LARGE SOURCE OF FUNDING.

AND IN FACT I SHOULD TELL YOU THIS WEEK THE MTA BEGAN DOING REAR BOARDING ON BUSES, ALMOST EVERY SINGLE BUS, YOU CAN BOARD FROM THE REAR NOW, WHICH MEANS A LOT OF FOLKS WILL NOT BE ABLE TO PAYUP UPFRONT UNLESS YOU ARE IN A SELECT BUS SERVICE BUSES AND THE MTA IS OKAY WITH THAT.

THEY WANT TO PROTECT THE BUS DRIVERS AND INSURE THEY ARE KEEPING THE SIX FEET OF DISTANCE, WHICH IS INCREDIBLY HARD WHEN YOU ARE DRIVING A BUS.

I GUESS THAT'S THE BIGGEST ARGUMENT FOR KEEPING THE REGULAR SCHEDULE BECAUSE IF THEY REDUCE THE SCHEDULE, SOCIAL DISTANCING WOULD BE MUCH MORE DIFFICULT.

PROTECTING THE BUS DRIVER, TALK ABOUT HOW SAFE IS THE SITUATION FOR ALL TRANSPORTATION WORKERS AND FOR THOSE INDIVIDUALS WHO END UP USING THE SYSTEM?

WELL, THE MTA IS DOING A VERY AGGRESSIVE CLEANING CAMPAIGN.

THEY HAVE BEEN DOING IT WELL OVER A WEEK NOW.

THAT INCLUDES DISINFECTING ALL THE BUSES, ALL THE TRAINS, ALL THE COMMUTER RAIL TRAINS AS WELL.

EVERY 72 HOURS, THEY SORT OF ROLL THROUGH THE SYSTEM.

EACH GETS A DEEP CLEANING.

THAT GOES FOR STATIONS WHICH ARE GETTING CLEANED AT LEAST TWICE A DAY.

MTA OFFICES, THEY HAVE A LOT OF OFFICE WORKERS, AND THEY WERE VERY WERND ABOUT GETTING THOSE PLACES CLEANED.

THE MTA ASSURES US THOSE ARE BEING CLEANED EVERY DAY.

THEY ARE USING A SPECIAL FORMULA THAT THE CDC RECOMMENDS.

AND VERY EARLY, I BELIEVE, YOU KNOW, WHEN WE WERE STARTING TO SEE THE NEW ROCHELLE CASE, THE MTA IMMEDIATELY ROLLED OUT AGGRESSIVE CLEANING MEASURES TO LET THE PUBLIC KNOW IT IS SAFE TO RIDE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AS THIS SORT OF CRISIS UNFOLDED IT BECAME, WELL, MAKE SURE YOU KEEP DISTANCE, STAY OUT OF PUBLIC.

THE MTA MADE SURE THOSE FOLKS WHO NEED TO GO INTO THE PUBLIC CAN DO SO SAFELY AND THE BUSES ARE CLEAN, THE SUBWAYS ARE CLEAN AND ACCESSORY VANS AS WELL.

THOSE HAVE BEEN CLEANED EVERY DAY.

IN FACT, THE MTA, YOU KNOW, THEY USED TO SHARE THOSE VAN RIDES WHERE THEY PICK SEVERAL PEOPLE UP ON A ROUTE.

THAT'S NOW STOPPED.

IT'S JUST ONE PERSON IN THE VAN AT A TIME.

THOSE SERVICES ARE STILL CONTINUING FOR FOLKS WHO NEED TO GET WHERE THEY NEED TO GO.

AND SPECIFICALLY THE HEALTH OF THE TRANSPORTATION WORKERS, DO WE KNOW THE NUMBER OF TRANSPORTATION WORKERS WHO HAVE TESTED POSITIVE FOR THE VIRUS?

WELL, JUST LIKE EVERYONE IN NEW YORK CITY, THEY ARE NOT IMMUNE TO IT.

AS THE NUMBERS GO UP INEVITABLY THE NUMBER OF TRANSIT WORKERS IS GOING TO GO UP.

THE LATEST NUMBER IS 30, BUT THE NUMBERS GO UP EVERY DAY.

IN FACT, JUST THIS MORNING, I SHOULD SAY LAST NIGHT, THEY TESTED SOMEONE AT THE END OF THE AC LINE, AND THEY HAD TO CLEAR OUT A BUNCH OF WORKERS AND TELL FOLKS STAY AWAY FOR THE TIME BEING SO THEY DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH WORKERS TO RUN THE C TRAIN THIS MORNING.

THAT'S GOING TO CHANGE, OF COURSE, AS MORE WORKERS CYCLE BACK IN.

THEY WILL GET THE TRAINS UP AND RUNNING AGAIN.

BUT THAT IS AN ONGOING CONCERN THAT IF ENOUGH WORKERS ON A PARTICULAR LINE OR A DEPOT TEST POSITIVE AND THEY NEED TO CLEAR THE SPACE OUT, DISINFECT IT, IT'S POSSIBLE THEY WON'T HAVE ENOUGH PEOPLE TO RUN CERTAIN LINES.

LAST WEEK IT WAS THE FRESH PONDS MEADOW BUS DEPOT HAD SOME ISSUES.

BUT THE MTA IS VERY AGGRESSIVE AND THEY FOLLOW THE STATE PROTOCOL AS FAR AS WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU FEEL SICK, IF YOU NEED TO SEE A DOCTOR, IF YOU TEST POSITIVE.

THERE IS SORT OF A CHECKLIST.

AND THE UNION TELLS ME IT'S GOOD.

IT'S RELIABLE AND THEY ARE DOING THEIR BEST AND THEY ARE SATISFIED THAT THE MTA IS ALSO DOING ITS BEST TO PROTECT ITS WORKERS.

YEAH, I SHOULD SAY THAT WE ARE TAPING THIS ON MONDAY EVENING.

SO, THAT'S THE REFERENCE YOU ARE MAKING.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE FINANCIAL SITUATION.

IS THE VIRUS CREATING WHAT SOME ARE CALLING AN MTA FINANCIAL CALAMITY OR POTENTIAL FINANCIAL CALAMITY?

WELL, WE WEREN'T EVEN A WEEK AND A HALF INTO IT BEFORE THE CHAIRMAN PAT FOYE SENT A LETTER TO NEW YORK'S CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION ASKING FOR A $4 BILLION BAILOUT TO HELP THEM.

THAT'S ANTICIPATING ROUGHLY $4 BILLION LOST BY THE END OF 20 TO DUE TO THE CORONAVIRUS.

AND THAT INCLUDES A FARE BOX REVENUE LOST, BUT ALSO NEW YORK STATE TAXES, WHICH THE MTA RELIES QUITE A BIT ON, TO FINANCE ITS OPERATING BUDGET.

THE MTA'S OPERATING BUDGET WAS ALREADY ON VERY PRECARIOUS FOOTING AS IT WAS.

I MEAN, BY STATE LAW, THEY NEED TO BALANCE THEIR BUDGET EVERY YEAR.

EVERY YEAR THEY JUST GET TO THE BALANCING POINT WHERE IT'S JUST EVEN, AND THEN TWO YEARS OUT THEY ARE PROJECTING A $1 BILLION DEFICIT.

$500 MILLION DEFICIT.

THEY ARE DOING A LOT TO CUT COSTS.

JUST BEFORE THIS HAPPENED, THEY WERE IN THE MIDST OF AN INCREDIBLE REORGANIZATION --

AND I WANT TO GET TO THAT.

BUT LET ME ASK YOU THE BASIC QUESTION.

WHAT IS THE ARGUMENT THAT PAT FOYE IS MAKING TO THE FEDS FOR THIS AMOUNT OF MONEY TO COME TO NEW YORK CITY?

I MEAN, IT COULD BE A CATASTROPHE FOR US, BUT HOW IS THAT A NATIONAL CATASTROPHE?

I MEAN, THEY SAY NEW YORK CITY IS THE LIFEBLOOD -- THE MTA IS THE LIFEBLOOD OF NEW YORK CITY.

NEW YORK IS THE LIFEBLOOD OF THE NATION AS FAR AS GENERATING GDP AND THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE HERE WHO CONTRIBUTE TO THE NATIONAL ECONOMY.

BEFORE THIS WE WERE TALKING ABOUT WHAT A CATASTROPHE IT WOULD BE IF NEW JERSEY COMMUTERS COULDN'T GET IN FROM, THROUGH THE GATEWAY TUNNEL IF THAT DOESN'T GET BUILT, LET ALONE NEW YORK CITY WORKERS NOT BEING ABLE TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE ECONOMY.

WALL STREET IS HERE, OF COURSE.

SO MANY COMPANIES ARE BASED IN NEW YORK CITY.

PEOPLE NEED TO BE ABLE TO GET AROUND AND MOVE FREELY.

THE MTA ALSO ARGUES SOMETHING LIKE 38% OF PUBLIC TRANSIT RIDERS RIDES HAPPEN IN NEW YORK CITY WHETHER IT'S LONG ISLAND RAILROAD, METRO-NORTH BUSES, SUBWAYS, ET CETERA.

SO NOT HAVING AN MTA SUBWAY THEY FEAR COULD HAVE QUITE BIG NATIONAL REPERCUSSIONS FINANCIALLY IF COMMERCE CAN'T FLOW AND MONEY CAN'T BE GENERATED HERE LIKE IT USED TO BE.

AND I GUESS HAVE YOU HEARD ANYTHING ABOUT, CONCERNS ABOUT WHAT THE MUNICIPAL BOND MARKET OR THE NATURE COULD BE IF THE MTA GOES BELLY UP?

WELL, CERTAINLY THE MTA RELIES A LOT ON SELLING BONDS.

ITS RATING WAS NOT TOO BAD AS FAR AS I UNDERSTAND.

I AM CERTAINLY NOT AN EXPERT IN THE MTA'S BOND ISSUES, BUT I DO KNOW THAT THEY RELY A LOT ON CREDIT.

THEY WILL HAVE A LOT OF DEBT COMING UP.

SO I SUPPOSE THAT WILL ALSO BE A MAJOR CONCERN IF THEY CAN'T PAY THEIR DEBT.

A LOT OF THEIR OPERATING FUNDING GOES TOWARDS PAYING DOWN DEBT FOR MONEY THEY BORROWED IN THE PAST.

SO IF THEY CAN'T CONTINUE TO PAY THAT OFF, IT IS GOING TO BE DIFFICULT.

IF THEY CAN'T SELL BONDS TO FINANCE OTHER OPERATIONS AND PROJECTS, IT'S GOING TO BE A PROBLEM.

THEY JUST CASHED OUT $1 BILLION LAST WEEK TO KEEP THEM GOING.

IT'S NOT EVEN CLEAR THAT'S GOING TO LAST FOR A LONG TIME WITH SUCH A BIG AGENCY, YOU KNOW, 70,000 TRANSIT WORKERS ALONE, NOT TO MENTION ALL OF THE ONGOING PROJECTS WHICH WE HEARD ABOUT SO MUCH, WHICH STILL NEED TO BE FUNDED AND WORKERS STILL NEED TO GET PAID.

LET'S TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU MADE REFERENCE TO.

THE MTA WAS PLANNING TO SPEND $51 BILLION ON INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS, A NUMBER OF THEM.

BADLY NEEDED.

WILL THAT HAVE TO BE SCRAPPED, DO YOU THINK?

THAT IS A BIG MYSTERY.

WE ARE ALL WAITING TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS WITH THIS BIG CAPITAL PLAN.

BEFORE THIS, YOU KNOW, DR CRISI OCCURRED, THE MTA WAS MAKING.

SO BIGGEST PLANS THEY HAVE EVER MADE TO MODERNIZE THE SUBWAYS.

NEW SIGNALS ACROSS THE SYSTEM.

AN ACCESSIBLE STATION WITH ELEVATORS EVERY OTHER STOP FOR FOLKS.

JUST INCREDIBLE STUFF THAT EVERYONE WAS SO EXCITED ABOUT.

THE MTA AND VERY MUCH, YOU KNOW, THE ADVOCACY COMMUNITY BELIEVED THE MTA WAS TURNING A CORNER WITH MODERNIZING ITS SYSTEM.

LIKE YOU SAID, OVER $50 BILLION IS NOTHING TO COUGH AT.

IT WAS ONE OF THE BIGGEST CAPITAL PLANS THEY HAD EVER HAD.

SO THEY WERE OPTIMISTIC THAT THE ECONOMY BWAS GOING TO HUM ALONG NICELY AND TAXES WOULD COME IN AND THEY WOULD BE ABLE TO FUND THIS.

NOW IT'S ABSOLUTELY UNCERTAIN.

EVEN BEFORE THIS, CONGESTION PRICES, WHICH WE GOT PASSED LAST YEAR, WAS SUPPOSED TO GO ONLINE THIS COMING DECEMBER/JANUARY.

THERE IS NO IDEA WHERE THAT STANDS NOW.

BUT IT WAS GOING TO RELY ON A LOT OF THAT MONEY TO FUND THESE PROJECTS.

THERE IS THE INTERNET SALES TAX WITH THE ECONOMY GOING DOWN.

IT'S NOT CLEAR HOW MUCH MONEY IS GOING TO COME IN ANYMORE.

ARE THEY GOING TO SCALE IT BACK, SCRAP IT?

WHICH PROJECTS GO FIRST?

AROUND THE TIME CORONAVIRUS FIRST STARTED THERE WAS SORT OF A COMMITMENT TO, OH YEAH, WE ARE GOING TO KEEP GOING, THIS IS STILL GOING TO HAPPEN, THE ACCEPTABLE STATIONS ARE STILL GOING TO HAPPEN.

NOW IT'S VERY MUCH UP IN THE AIR.

I FEEL LIKE THERE IS A LOT OF UNCERTAINTY AND THE MTA WILL BE HOLDING A BOARD MEETING LATER THIS WEEK WHERE I THINK THEY WILL START TO ADDRESS SOME OF THOSE CONCERNS THAT LOT OF FOLKS ARE HAVING.

WE HAVE ABOUT 20 SECONDS LEFT.

WHAT'S YOUR BEST GUESS?

ARE WE GOING TO BE FEELING THE EFFECTS OF THIS CORONAVIRUS IN THE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM FOR YEARS AND YEARS TO COME?

IT'S VERY LIKELY.

IT'S VERY LIKELY.

IF THEY DON'T MAINTAIN THE SYSTEM, IF THEY DON'T KEEP IT UP, IF THEY DON'T CONTINUE TO IMPROVE IT, WE COULD VERY EASILY SLIDE BACK TO WHERE WE WERE A FEW YEARS AGO WITH BREAKDOWNS CONSTANTLY AND WITH THE GENERAL PUBLIC AFRAID TO RIDE BECAUSE OF CORONAVIRUS FEARS, YOU WILL PROBABLY SEE FEWER RIDERS AT A TIME WHEN RIDERSHIP WAS JUST COMING BACK FROM THE DOLDRUMS WHERE IT WAS BEFORE.

SO WE CAN EXPECT A LOT OF UNCERTAINTY.

ALL RIGHT.

STEVEN, WE WILL BRING YOU BACK TO GIVE US UPDATES AS THIS CRISIS UNFOLDS.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US TODAY.

THANKS A LOT FOR HAVING ME.

> THE SUDDEN SHIFT IN LIFESTYLE AND ROUTINE HAS SENT A SHOCKWAVE THROUGH AMERICA'S CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM CAUSING STRESS AND ANXIETY FOR ALL OF US.

ONLINE WE SEE PEOPLE COMING UP WITH INGENIOUS WAY OF MAINTAINING THEIR PHYSICAL FITNESS EITHER ALONE OR IN GROUPS WHILE MAINTAINING SOCIAL DISTANCING AND STAYING AT HOME.

WHAT ABOUT THE HEALTH OF YOUR BRAIN?

DR. WENDY SUZUKI, A PROFESSOR OF NEUROSCIENCE AND PSYCHOLOGY AT THE NEW YORK UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR NEUROSCIENCE SAYS MAINTAINING THE HEALTH AND ACUITY OF OUR MOST CRUCIAL ORGAN IS OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANT, ESPECIALLY FOR OUR SENIOR POPULATION.

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

HAPPY TO BE HERE.

THANK YOU.

SO, FIRST, I JUST WANT TO ASK WHAT FEELS LIKE A BASIC QUESTION, BUT YET SOMETHING THAT I THINK WE WANT TO UNDERSTAND MORE, AND WHAT DOES SUCH A SHOCK, AND AGAIN WE ARE NOT JUST TALKING ABOUT FEAR AND ANGER AND ALL OF THESE EMOTIONS THAT WE'RE ALL SUDDENLY FEELING ADDED ON WITH ISOLATION.

WHAT IS THAT DOING TO OUR PHYSICAL BRAIN?

WELL, IT IS CAUSING A LOT OF STRESS.

IT'S CAUSING ANXIETY.

IT'S CAUSING DEPRESSION.

THIS IS NOT GOOD FOR OUR BRAINS LONG TERM STRESS AND ANXIETY CAUSES HIGH LEVELS OF STRESS HORMONES THAT CAN SHRINK PARTS OF THE BRAIN AND START TO CAUSE LOTS OF LEVELS OF BRAIN DAMAGE.

SO WE WANT TO TRY AND NIP THIS IN THE BUD.

AND ABSOLUTELY ACKNOWLEDGE WE ARE IN A SERIOUS SITUATION.

THIS IS A PANDEMIC, AND THERE IS SOMETHING TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT.

BUT AT THE SAME TIME WE CAN TAKE STEPS TO MAKE SURE THAT OUR BRAINS MAINTAIN GOOD HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT FOR THEM.

SO, WHAT WAS -- WAS THERE ANYTHING ABOUT THE WAY THAT WE WERE LIVING OUR LIVES THAT WAS ACTUALLY GOOD FOR OUR BRAINS?

I MEAN, I KNOW THAT PEOPLE ARE INTO BRAIN TEASERS AND INTO SORT OF LIKE, YOU KNOW, CHALLENGING THEMSELVES WITH LEARNING NEW THINGS, BUT WAS THERE A WAY THAT OUR AMERICAN LIFESTYLE WAS THAT WAS ACTUALLY GOOD FOR OUR BRAINS, OR IS THIS PERHAPS A CHANCE TO RETHINK THE WAY THAT WE ENGAGE WITH THE WORLD NOT ONLY FOR OUR BRAINS, BUT ALSO PSYCHOLOGICALLY?

I THINK BOTH.

WE HAD WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITIES BEFORE THIS PANDEMIC HIT TO DO LOTS OF GOOD THINGS FOR OUR BRAINS.

WE KNOW THAT EXERCISE IS W WONDERFUL FOR THE BRAIN.

COGNITIVE ENGAGEMENT PLAYING.

GAMES LIKE BRIDGE AND CHESS AND BEING ENGAGED IN YOUR JOB AS YOU DO.

YOU HAVE TO LEARN SO MANY DIFFERENT THINGS ABOUT SO MANY DIFFERENT TOPICS, FOR EXAMPLE.

GOOD EATING IS VERY GOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN.

SO WHAT HAS CHANGED NOW?

I FIND IT FASCINATING THAT PEOPLE ARE GIVING SO -- GETTING SO CREATIVE IN THE WAY THAT THEY INTERACT.

TODAY I TOOK AN ONLINE VIDEO YOGA CLASS THAT HAD PEOPLE ALL AROUND THE WORLD ASSOCIATED IT.

IT WAS VERY DIFFERENT FROM ANY OTHER YOGA CLASS I EVER TOOK.

AND IT IS CHANGING THE WAY THAT WE ARE CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE.

THAT CONNECTION IS VERY, VERY IMPORTANT FOR YOUR BRAIN, OUR BRAINS.

SO YOU CAN SAY THAT THIS PANDEMIC HAS KIND OF INCREASED THE WAYS THAT WE CAN ENHANCE THE FUNCTIONS OF OUR BRAIN WITH CREATIVITY, FOR EXAMPLE.

WELL, I WONDER IF YOU CAN TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT -- WITHOUT BEING TOO SCIENCE AND JARGONY, ABOUT THE WAYS THAT WHAT YOU WERE SAYING, THAT CREATIVITY HAS SORTED OF AWAKENED IN SO MANY PEOPLE, HOW DOES THAT IMPROVE YOUR BRAIN'S FUNCTIONALITY?

YEAH.

SO, CREATIVITY IS SOMETHING THAT IS FASCINATING TO SO MANY DIFFERENT PEOPLE, AND CREATIVITY IS PART OF KIND OF COGNITIVE ENGAGEMENT, COGNITIVE ENHANCEMENT.

WE KNOW THAT, FOR EXAMPLE, PEOPLE WITH HIGHER LEVELS OF EDUCATION, THEY STAYED IN SCHOOL LONGER PERIODS OF TIME, THEIR BRAINS TEND TO BE MORE RESILIENT TO AGING AND COGNITIVE DECLINE.

SO CREATIVITY AND USING YOUR BRAIN IN A NEW WAY IS ONE ASPECT OF THAT.

SO I LOVE ALL OF THE WAYS THAT I'M SEEING PEOPLE INTERACTING WITH EACH OTHER IN DIFFERENT WAYS FWR OPERA SINGING OUT OF THE WINDOWS IN MILAN TO ONLINE HAPPY HOURS, WHICH I ALSO DID FOR THE FIRST TIME LAST NIGHT AND I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT.

SO THAT IS HOW WE THINK ABOUT CREATIVITY IN THE BRAIN.

ANOTHER THING IS THAT YOU HAVE BEEN AN ADVOCATE FOR THE IMPORTANCE OF EXERCISE AND THAT HAVING AGAIN AN AFFECT ON OUR PHYSICAL BRAIN.

I AM WONDERING IF YOU COULD SORT OF EXPLAIN HOW THAT WORKS AND WHY IT'S WORTH, EVEN IF IT'S JUST GETTING OUT AND TAKING A WALK AROUND YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD, WHY THAT'S WORTH IT.

YEAH.

SO, SO IMPORTANT.

I'D SAY THAT EXERCISE IS THE MOST TRANSFORMATIVE THING THAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR BRAIN TODAY.

YOU CAN DO IT INSIDE.

YOU CAN DO IT OUTSIDE.

BUT MOVING YOUR BODY IS TRANSFORMATIVE BECAUSE IT HAS IMMEDIATE POSITIVE BENEFITS.

IT IS BATHING YOUR BRAIN IN WHAT I LIKE TO CALL A BUBBLE BATH OF NEUROCHEMICALS, INCLUDING DOPAMINE AND SEROTONIN THAT INCREASE YOUR MOOD AND DECREASE STRESS AND AINXIETY.

SOMETHING EVERYBODY NEEDS.

AND FOR THE LONG TERM, IT ACTUALLY STIMULATES THE BIRTH OF BRAND-NEW BRAIN CELLS IN A BRAIN AREA THAT IS VERY SUSCEPTIBLE TO AGING AND ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE.

THAT IS CALLED THE HIPPOCAMPUS.

SO IT'S -- YOU CAN THINK OF THE BRAIN LIKE A MUSCLE, LIKE THE REST OF YOUR BODY, A MUSCLE IN THE REST OF YOUR BODY.

THE MORE YOU WORK OUT AND THE MORE YOU MOVE YOUR BODY, THE STRONGER YOUR BRAIN GETS, THE BIGGER AND FATTER THIS BRAIN AREA, THE HIPPOCAMPUS, GETS.

SO IT TAKES LONGER FOR AGING AND NEURODEGENERATIVE STATES TO START TO AFFECT IT.

AND SO YOU ARE STAVING OFF THE DEBILITATING EFFECTS OF AGING AND NEURODEGENERATIVE STATES, WHICH ARE SO IMPORTANT FOR OUR SENIORS WHO ARE PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE.

SO I AM A NEW ADVISOR FOR MAPLEWOOD SENIOR LIVING AND INSPIRE SENIOR LIVING HERE IN THE CITY, AND WE TALKED A LOT ABOUT HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO KEEP OUR SENIORS, WHO ARE HOPEFULLY SAFE IN THEIR HOMES, BUT NOT JUST SITTING THERE.

CAN THEY GET UP?

CAN THEY DO A LITTLE BIT OF CARDIO OR AT LEAST ENERGETIC VACUUMING?

CAN THEY CHANGE THE BEDS?

THERE IS SO MANY THINGS YOU CAN DO AROUND THE HOUSE THAT ACTUALLY COUNT AS EXERCISE.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO GET IN YOUR SPANDEX TO MAKE IT COUNT, BUT HOUSEWORK AND EVEN GETTING UP AND TAKING A LITTLE WALK AROUND THE APARTMENT IF YOU DON'T WANT TO GO OUTSIDE.

THAT COUNTS AS WELL.

VERY IMPORTANT TO MAKE SURE THAT YOUR FRIENDS, YOUR FAMILY, YOUR SENIORS NOT ONLY HAVE THAT FOOD, CARE PACKAGE THAT WE'RE ALL GIVING TO OUR SENIOR FRIENDS, BUT OARE REMINDED TO GET UP, GE OUT, TAKE THEM OUT FOR A WALK STAYING SIX FEET APART IF YOU CAN.

BUT VERY IMPORTANT FOR THEIR MENTAL HEALTH, ESPECIALLY TO DECREASE THAT ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, THAT COMES WITH THE ISOLATION THAT WE'RE ALL EXPERIENCING.

OF COURSE.

AND THAT, I THINK, IS SO INTERESTING AND MIGHT EVEN FEEL PROFOUND, ALTHOUGH OBVIOUS TO YOU, BECAUSE SO MANY PEOPLE SEEM TO FEEL, YOU KNOW, IF I CALL AND CHECK IN OR IF, YOU KNOW, IF THEY KNOW HOW TO USE THE INTERNET, MAYBE WE CAN PLAY A GAME OR SOMETHING ONLINE, VIDEO CHATTING.

BUT IT'S THE ACTUAL MOVEMENT OF THE BODY THAT YOU ARE SAYING THAT'S WHERE THE KEY IS?

YEAH, ABSOLUTELY.

AND IT WORKS NO MATTER WHAT AGE YOU ARE.

I HAVE SO MANY PEOPLE ASK ME, WELL, I'M 65.

IT'S TOO LATE FOR ME.

IT IS NEVER TOO LATE.

THERE ARE STUDIES THAT HAVE SHOWN THAT OLDER PEOPLE IN THEIR 70s THAT HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE, WITH THREE MONTHS OF INCREASED MOVEMENT, WHICH FOR THEM WAS JUST WALKING, YOU KNOW, KIND OF POWER WALKING FOR THREE MONTHS, COMPARED TO PEOPLE THAT JUST DID STRETCHING AND TONING, THEIR DEMENTIA SCORE SIGNIFICANTLY DECREASED OVER THOSE THREE MONTHS.

AND WITHOUT THAT INTERVENTION, THE DEMENTIA SCORE TENDS TO, IN ALL OF OUR FAMILY MEMBERS WITH DEMENTIA, GO UP AND UP AND UP AS YOU AGE.

SO THIS IS SOMETHING, IT'S NOT JUST A VITAMIN, IT IS A MEDICINE.

MOVEMENT IS A MEDICINE FOR YOUR BRAIN.

THAT IS SOMETHING I HAVE NOT HEARD BEFORE.

SO THAT IS INCREDIBLY UNIQUE.

I WANT TO ALSO ASK YOU SINCE YOU ALSO ARE A PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE BEST WAY FOR US TO ATTEMPT TO HANDLE JUST THIS RUSH OF EMOTIONS?

SO MANY PEOPLE I HAVE BEEN SPEAKING TO, IT'S NOT JUST FEAR.

IT'S ANXIETY.

IT'S ANGER.

DEPRESSION.

ALL OF THOSE THINGS.

WHAT IS A GOOD WAY FOR US TO START TO MANAGE THOSE EMOTIONS THAT THEY DON'T OVERWHELM US INTO INACTION?

I AM GOING TO GIVE YOU THE NUMBER ONE STTIP THAT CAN HELP IMMEDIATELY, AND THAT IS SIMPLY TAKING DEEP BREATH IN AND OUT.

WHY?

BECAUSE OUR BREATH IS CONTROLLED BY TWO DUELING NERVOUS SYSTEMS.

ONE THAT IS ACTIVATING US TO RUN AND FIGHT.

THAT IS CALLED THE SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM.

ANOTHER NERVOUS SYSTEM THAT IS THE REST AND DIGEST AND THE WEEKEND NERVOUS SYSTEM.

THEY ARE BOTH AFFECTING OUR BREATHING, AND THAT STRESS NERVOUS SYSTEM IS MAKING US BREATHE LIKE THIS.

THE BEST WAY TO COUNTER THAT IS SIMPLY TO TAKE A DEEP BREATH BECAUSE WE HAVE COMPLETE CONTROL OVER THAT.

AND THAT IS -- TRY IT OUT.

IT CAN CALM YOU, EVEN IF YOU STILL HAVE THOSE WORRIES ABOUT WHAT THE PANDEMIC IS DOING.

IT WILL HELP THE WHOLE REST AND K DIGEST NERVOUS SYSTEM KICK IN JUST BY STARTING TO BREATHE DEEPLY AND WITH INTENTION.

SO THAT IS MY NUMBER ONE TIP.

MY NUMBER TWO TIP IS TO GET UP AND MOVE, AND MOVE YOUR BODY, DANCE TO YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC, TAKE ONE OF THE FREE YOUTUBE CLASSES THAT ARE ALL OVER THE INTERNET AND GROWING EVERY DAY BECAUSE EVERYBODY IS GIVING OUT THERE OF THEIR EXERCISE EXPERTISE.

AND SO THOSE ARE THE TWO THINGS.

BREATHE AND MOVE.

I FEEL LIKE THE MOST HELPFUL THING THAT YOU SAID, AND PERHAPS THIS JUST A ME THING, BUT SOMETHING THAT I CAN CONTROL IS REALLY, I THINK --

EXACTLY.

THAT'S THE BEST THING I HEARD.

YES, YES, ABSOLUTELY.

AND ALL THE OTHER PARTS OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM THAT ARE IN THIS BATTLE BETWEEN STRESS AND NON-STRESS, MUCH HARDER TO CONTROL YOUR HEART RATE.

CAN I CONTROL MY HEART RATE?

TRY REALLY HARD, YOU CAN'T.

CAN I CONTROL MY DIGESTION?

NO.

CAN I CONTROL MY REPRODUCTION?

NO.

WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL IS YOUR BREATH.

THAT'S WHY IT'S SO POWERFUL.

THAT IS A REALLY, REALLY POWERFUL THING.

I JUST WANT TO -- WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME.

I WANT TO ASK, WHAT IS IT THAT YOU HOPE, ASIDE FROM THE HEALTH AND WELL BEING, OF COURSE, OF EVERYBODY AND THEIR PHYSICAL HEALTH, BUT WHETHER IT COMES TO OUR BRAIN, WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WOULD HOPE THAT WE AS A COUNTRY ARE ABLE TO TAKE AWAY FROM AND HOW WE TREAT THIS CRUCIAL ORGAN?

YES.

WELL, I THINK THAT JUST APPRECIATION OF THE POWER AND THE BEAUTY OF OUR OWN BRAINS.

THE BRAIN IS THE MOST COMPLEX STRUCTURE KNOWN TO HUMAN KIND, AND WE ALL HAVE ONE.

AND IT NEEDS TO LAST A LIFETIME.

AND THAT IS WHY EXERCISE IS SO TRANSFORMATIVE.

IT'S THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO.

IT'S FREE.

ALL YOU DO IS MOVE YOUR BODY.

IT DOESN'T REQUIRE ANY EXTRA, YOU KNOW, FEES TO PAY.

AND I LIKE TO CALL EXERCISE THE SUPERCHARGED 401(K) FOR YOUR BRAIN.

EVERY TIME YOU MAKE A DEPOSIT OF MOVEMENT, YOU ARE LITERALLY HELPING YOUR BRAIN LAST FOR A LONG, LONG TIME IN THE FUTURE.

STAVING OFF AGING AND NEURODEGENERATIVE STATES.

AND IT IS POWERFUL, AND YOU CAN DO IT RIGHT NOW.

LISTEN, DR. SUZUKI, I WANT TO THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING ME ON THE PROGRAM AND WITH SOME REALLY IMPORTANT HELPFUL, POWERFUL TIPS SO THAT WE CAN GET THROUGH THIS, I THINK, AS STRONG AND COME OUT VIBRANT AS EVERYBODY.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

THANK YOU.

> FOR THE LATEST NEWS ON THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC AND YOUR COMMUNITY, VISIT US AT 'METROFOCUS'.ORG, FACEBOOK AND TWITTER.

GOOD NIGHT, AND STAY SAFE.

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Funders

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