From the Centre: All ages can do with some brain boosting

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The BC Recreation and Parks and Recreation Association (BCRPA) recently had its annual symposium and, frankly, it was pretty interesting. BCRPA is our province’s organization that advocates for or leads the charge in field of recreation and leisure services, not only at a provincial level but along with all our provincial sister organizations across Canada at the national level with Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRA). One discussion the delegates were involved in was providing feedback towards the National Recreation Agenda discussion paper, which hits the CPRA in New Brunswick at the end of May. This document will guide recreation in Canada for the next decade or so, just as the 1987 National Recreation Statement did oh so long time ago.

OK, I know that’s pretty dry stuff from where you are standing and if you are still reading, give yourself 10 points. One of the other sessions I attended was entitled “Brain Boosting Secrets for Seniors”, not only because we work with a large number of seniors here at the Community Complex but also because … uh … I forgot what I was thinking… Oh well, you get the idea. The speaker, Terry Small, held the entire audience captive for about two hours as everyone realized in the first few minutes the subject matter applied to all ages. Backed up by various studies and the like, he indicated how with our longer lifespans, the lifespan of our brains hasn’t quite caught up with our bodies and thus the absolute need to have a wellness plan for the grey matter. We learned how our memory starts declining after we are 20, but does time cause memory loss? The answer is no; it’s just that memory loss occurs over time, but with proper protection, just as paint protects steel from rust over time, there is no reason to lose it.

One item I keyed in on was laughter — apparently a defined sense of humor (not sure what an undefined sense of humour is) accelerates learning, and ultimately, you will live seven years longer than the grumps. Unless, of course, somebody without a sense of humour throttles you first because of your incessant joking and happy outlook on life. Apparently, seniors are the happiest or most content people on the planet, partially because after about 70, you have crystalized intelligence, a fancy term for wisdom. While I am waiting breathlessly for that day, I did learn that 90 per cent of what we know abut the brain has been learned in that past two years. Your brain is always working; even when you sleep, the little custodians are cleaning up the debris and detritus that accumulated over the course of the day and flushing them out, which is why a good solid sleep between seven and nine hours is one of the top four items in protecting the egg.

The other top items to avoid are unpredictable stress — of course, we all have stresses which in some cases benefit your health, but the ones where your brain is always on “high alert” or “waiting” are the bad ones. We also know the sedentary lifestyle is nothing but bad and we push that here incessantly — do something; as long as you are active, you are benefitting yourself. Did you know that even sleeping burns more calories than staring slack-jawed at the TV? Finally, and you knew this was on the list, is diet and there is more information out there about what you should and shouldn’t be eating that I can’t sum it up in a few sentences.

I certainly can’t condense two hours of learning into my allotted space but a final study Terry Small referred to was how music is very beneficial for our brain health and through research, they even identified baroque music as the best overall. I believe I still have my sweatshirt that says “I’m baroque because I have no Monet.” Have a good weekend!

Neil Ostafichuk is the recreation supervisor at the Creston and District Community Complex.


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