CHERI BURCHAM Family Life Educator
Have you ever tried to come up with animal names that start with the letter “a” and go through the entire alphabet? How about coming up with the names of all the states that don’t include the letter “o”? Or how about coming up with names for all the states that border Canada? Do you want to enumerate? Do you like trivia questions? Riddles? Find hidden photos?
If so, congratulations! You’re using your brain in a variety of ways that are very beneficial to your cognition. If so, you’ll also love the Wits Fitness brain health classes I’ve been hosting in Coles and surrounding counties since 2015.
The purpose of these classes is to educate participants about the contributors to a healthy brain and to present cognitive or mental challenges to participants in a highly social environment. Participants were not tested for Alzheimer’s disease and we do not claim that this class will restore your memory or prevent you from developing dementia. Wits Fitness classes allow participants to stay mentally active by simply engaging in interactive activities that improve their thinking skills, helping to maintain and improve brain function.
According to the World Council on Brain Health, “throughout the lifespan, participation in formal or self-initiated informal educational activities, continuing participation in work experience, learning new skills, and participating in leisure activities Cognitively stimulating activities are mentally challenging but beneficial for adult brain health. Cognitively stimulating activities are mentally engaging activities or exercises that challenge a person’s thinking abilities. These activities help preserve your brain and cognitive abilities such as memory, thinking, attention, and reasoning skills as you age.”
GCBH reports that cognitively stimulating activities should be new, interesting, challenging, fun, and promote social engagement. Participating in activities that incorporate social engagement, like Wits Fitness classes, is particularly beneficial for brain health.
One of the things I really love about Wits Fitness classes is the camaraderie and laughter I witness every time. These classes provide a great opportunity for participants to learn and try new things while having fun. It’s the activity that matters, not how well you do it.
The upcoming locations and dates are as follows (excluding holidays).
- Held on the first Monday of each month at 10 a.m. at the Coles County Lifespan Center.
- Held on the first Monday of each month at 1 a.m. at the Shelby County Senior Center.
- Held on the third Monday of each month at Eberhard Village in Arthur at 3 p.m.
- The fourth Monday of each month at Mid-Illinois Senior Services in Sullivan at 1 p.m.
- Held on the fourth Friday of each month at 10 a.m. at the Cumberland County Life Center.
If the date falls on a holiday, we will normally move the class one week later. You can call and confirm. There are no classes in July and December.
There is no participation fee, so you can participate at any time. I always say you’re never too young or too old to start training your brain. Join us for this fun and informative class. University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunity in our programs and employment. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate, please call 217-543-3755.
Cheri Burcham is a family life educator at U of I Extension. Please contact email@example.com.