The Importance of Brain Fitness

Every day we are reminded in some form or fashion about the importance and benefits of intentional physical activity. Research shows that the lack of physical activity will cause you to age prematurely. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, physical activity reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, depression, high blood pressure, certain cancers and other serious diseases.

At Blakeford, we focus a lot of resources into the development of our physical wellness programs. We have a dedicated WellLife department whose job each day is to build awareness and offer opportunities ranging from group fitness classes to one on one training. They also meet with residents to determine and track their fitness goals. This department has proven to be increasingly successful in meeting the needs of our residents. Our supervised exercise numbers (people using the Wellness Center) have grown from approximately 60 per month in September 2012 to 250 per month in September 2015. The classes we offer are advanced and cover the spectrum of physical wellness with opportunities for mental relaxation and muscle stretching, improving range of motion and flexibility, and strengthening the mind and the body. We also work closely with our physical therapy department to help residents recover from injuries or increase their mobility if they need a bit more than what a regular exercise program would offer them. With the prospect of a new, state of the art Wellness Center on our horizon, we have many more exciting things to look forward to.

So, what’s next for WellLife? Brain Fitness.

Brain fitness is the capacity of a person to meet the various cognitive demands of life. Focused “training of the brain” helps us to assimilate information, comprehend relationships, and develop reasonable conclusions and plans. You can achieve this through a variety of forums ranging from formal education, being actively and mentally engaged in life, continuing to seek opportunities to learn something new and engaging in targeted exercises designed to challenge cognitive skills. “Science has shown that aging decreases mental efficiency and memory decline is the number one cognitive complaint of older adults,” said Sandra Bond Chapman, Ph.D., founder and chief director of the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas.

In 2016 Blakeford will offer a computer based brain training program to our residents, expanding our lifelong learning opportunity programs, continuing to build our physical fitness/brain fitness combination classes. We really want to bring the importance of not only brain fitness to the forefront, but the increased effectiveness that engaging in a physical exercise program as well as a brain fitness program will have on one’s overall wellness. WellLife Coordinator, Brittany Bishop, notes, “My goal is for our residents to make brain training part of their fitness routine. It will serve as a great compliment to their exercise classes. This will truly mean Blakeford is focusing on the ‘whole person’ but working both the body and mind.”

For wellness tips from Blakeford, please visit our YouTube channel.

Holli Passmore, CASP, serves as the Administrator of Independent Living Services and Director of Wellness and Life Enrichment. Her responsibilities include managing the independent living community and overseeing its daily operations. As Director of Wellness and Life Enrichment, she works closely with the community’s Life Enrichment and Wellness team to develop and implement WellLife at Blakeford, which provides residents the platform to maintain optimum well-being based on the six dimensions of wellness.


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