It’s just as important to exercise your brain as it is your body -- that was the message yesterday from Lois Lutz at the Pine Community Center.
The Alzheimer's Association's education outreach coordinator spoke at a "Maintain Your Brain” workshop that was part of the senior speaker series hosted by the center on the second Tuesday of every month.
Lutz gave the 10 workshop participants tips, ideas, advice and exercises to help them keep their brains healthy.
“There are two things you can’t control – your genetics and your age. But, just about everything else is a matter of choice,” she said.
“The average brain weighs three pounds," said Lutz. "There are over 100 billion cells in your brain and 100 trillion synapses. We need to take care of it.”
Learning something new every day helps to exercise the brain, according to Lutz.
“This is based on all sorts of research and science from our main office,” she said, “We didn’t just make it up.”
Playing chess, checkers and other strategic board games, taking classes, joining discussion groups and other forms of socializing, learning a musical instrument, learning a new dance step or sport, learning a new language, teaching and volunteer work are all ways to keep your brain active, according to Lutz.
“Traveling is wonderful, of course, but how many of you have seen all the museums in Pittsburgh? There are a lot of things we can do right here,” she said.
Things as simple as switching routine activities, such as changing parking places at work or the mall or trying new recipes, can help keep your brain healthy.
“Switch your underwear and sock drawers, and see how long it takes you to automatically go to the right drawer again,” she said.
Maintaining your mental health shouldn’t come at the expense of your physical health, however, said Lutz, and in fact, the two are closely linked.
“Keeping your heart healthy and your ‘routes’ to the brain clean and clear help your circulation and you can think better,” she said.
Since many of the participants came directly from working out in the fitness area of the center or walking on the track, it was advice right up their alley.
“Oh good. At least I am taking care of that,” one woman joked to her friend.
Nutrition also plays an important role in brain health, said Lutz.
“Choose dark, colorful vegetables and food with omega-three fatty acids,” she said.
In response to a question about memory issues, Lutz shared information about the Alzheimer’s Association’s hotline.
“There is someone there 24 hours a day, seven days a week and you can also visit our website for more information,” she said. The phone number is 800-272-3900.
The senior speaker’s series is free to Pine Community Center members and $5 for non-members. For more information visit www.twp.pine.pa.us or call 724-625-1591, ext. 3.
“We have the speaker series to provide education to adults and seniors. We choose the topics, and then we contact local professionals to speak on the topic,” said program coordinator Matthew Cooper.