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Exercising brain as important as exercising body

By Greg Summers

These days, fitness means more than a walk on the treadmill for those at Prime Time for Seniors Center.

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A group there is learning how to exercise their minds through Breakfast for your Brain.

Based on Dr. Marge Engleman’s “Aerobics of the Mind,” the weekly course teaches seniors to take mental fitness seriously.

Until about 25 years ago, most researchers believed that memory loss was a part of the natural aging process.

However, confusion and forgetfulness aren’t the first symptoms of senility, said Sally Sherrin, Lancaster County Council on Aging executive director. 

Sherrin said Engleman’s research has shown that a lack of exercise, diet, injury and medication are the major causes of memory loss, not old age.

“In most cases, those symptoms can be traced to vitamin, mineral and dietary deficiencies and medications,” Sherrin said.     

Sherrin said exercising your brain for 10 hours can have a positive impact on your life five years “down the road.”

“As we get older our mental capacity does slow down a little bit, but our brain power is still there,” she said. “Think about all the people who started painting when they were older.”

Breakfast for your Brain encourages older adults to stretch their thinking and learn new ways of behavior to stimulate memory and develop more creativity.

The class steers away from physiology, but it does include current research on how nutrition impacts the brain.

Other components of the class include puzzles, visual tests, tips and loads of  fun.

The class has just two rules, Sherrin said.

“Nobody gets out of talking and if you comment, you have to wait on four other people to say something before you can comment again,” Sherrin said.

It’s not too late to join Breakfast for your Brain, but Sherrin said those who are interested need to register by Jan. 27.

Interested?

WHAT: Breakfast for your Brain, a series of classes to encourage the benefits of mental exercise, physical activity and good nutrition

WHEN: 10 to 11 a.m. each Wednesday

WHERE: Prime Time for Seniors Center, 309 S. Plantation Road

HOW MUCH: Free, registration is required.

DETAILS: Sally Sherrin (803) 285-6956.