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New fitness center helps exercise your intellect

After those grade school and university days are done, many people drop the brain barbell.

But no one sets out to soften their muscles, especially their intellect.

Cindi Ryerson opened the Millennium Cognitive Cafe on Oct. 20, as a unique brain fitness center in Bonita Springs, to keep that noggin strong from your mid-40s on through retirement. There is no proven way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, but keeping active physically, socially and mentally may reduce the risk.

Today, 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease – 1 in 8 for those older than 65, according to a March 2011 Alzheimer’s Association report. By 2050, as many as 16 million Americans will have the disease.

Ryerson is a registered nurse who, for 10 years, also has owned and operated the Millennium House, an adult day services center for those with physical and mental disabilities. A year ago, Ryerson decided to be proactive and help people before the onset of these illnesses, possibly delaying it for decades.

“Consider it like a social club,” Ryerson said during her fitness cafe’s open house. “They’re like-minded people wanting to stay brain fit, build new neurons and cognitive reserve to ward off the potential of dementia and Alzheimer’s.”

Inside the nut and coffee-colored center, visitors are greeted with round tables and chairs with a bar of complimentary coffee, bottled water and trail mix snacks. “Brain food,” Ryerson called the nuts within the trail mix. She opened a cushioned bench lid to show games such as chess, Mind Trap, Logic Box and Ball of Whacks that people can play as they sip their java.

The Circuit Training Room has four stations where people can develop the functions of both sides of their brains: the imaginative, creative right side and the logical, scientific left side.

For the Conference Room, Ryerson plans on bringing in experts in subjects such as nutrition, sleep deprivation, drumming classes, Tai Chi and laughter yoga.

Doug MacGregor – an editorial cartoonist for 31 years, author and art instructor – will lead a few events and classes to develop the right, artistic side of the brain.

Friday, October 28, 2011

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