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Wallen discusses brain fitness with San-Cap Rotary Club

By Staff | Aug 11, 2009

It seems lately that our Rotary Speaker chairs have been fixated on brain awareness and brain functioning programs. The club has had three speakers on this topic in the last two months – not exactly sure why, but perhaps because Rotarians want to remain vital, both physically and mentally, as we age. Is brain fitness a new fad or a new hope for aging well?

Lynn Wallen our guest speaker this past week from LEAF Ltd., a private not-for-profit foundation recently started holding regular workshops and classes at the Sanibel Community Association designed to educate participants about the benefits of brain fitness training.

Cognitive exercises in both workshop form and computer aided. To quote an excerpt from the LEAF literature, “Research in neuroscience shows that keeping mentally fit can delay or even prevent cognitive impairment in the aging brain. Use it or lose it is true of the brain as well as the body, and the brain retains its neuroplasticity (ability to grow and change) throughout life.”

Wallen said that, “It was once believed that dying brain cells were gone forever, but now neuroscientists believe some areas of the brain are capable of generating and growing new brain cells. The LEAF workshops concentrates on improving the neuroplasticity of the brain. Challenging the brain and helping it to adapt to change.”

Lynn led us in a simple brain adaptation exercise involving printing, drawing, and writing our signature using our non-dominate hand, forcing concentration to the other side of our brain. With time and effort on such exercises, the brain has proven to adapt under amazing circumstances. Control groups such as a group of Nuns from Minnesota have been studied to see if life style and stress change our brain chemistry against their physical family history.

Can we increase our brainpower? Does stress effect brainpower and learning reserve? Can brain fitness be improved by regularly challenging our thoughts, deeds and actions? Can we postpone or delay memory loss? LEAF believes the answer to these questions are “Yes” and the how is with meditation, cognitive therapy and cognitive training.

Although the Brain Fitness Workshops at the SCA have stopped now until October, you might consider taking one of the eight classes that will be offered through this program in the fall: Ten Steps to Brain Fitness, Memory Techniques 101, Mental Exercises, More Memory Techniques, Focused Attention and Life Review. These workshops and classes focus primarily on active learning and cognitive exercise but will also include information about the importance of the other factors in contributing to wellness.

The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary club would like to invite you to join us for one of our upcoming Friday morning meetings and speaker series:

August 14 – Dave Kelly, motivational speaker on aging to perfection

August 21 – Norm Ziegler, “Fabulous Fishing Techniques”

August 28 – Rotarian, Robert Monk, “Diving off the Galapagos Islands”

September 4 – Jeff Tumbarello, Director SWFL REIA (Real Estate Investment Association), “A top down look of the FDIC Banks. Analyzing the Balance Sheet of the Entire Banking Enterprise.”

For additional information regarding Rotary or if you would like to attend an upcoming meeting, just call Lee Almas at 472-5522.