Body, Mind, and Movement Program™
Canadian dancer and fitness instructor, Jill Simpson, spent nearly a decade as caregiver to her father who had Lewy body dementia, a form most often associated with Parkinson’s disease. A decade later, returning to the world of dance, Jill was hired by the Alzheimer’s Society of Ontario to become as one of six Mind’s in Motion® physical activity leads in its ground breaking pilot program investigating the effects of exercise on early to mid-dementia. The more I learned, the more I kept thinking about my dad, and how this information might have helped him had I just known more about the most recent dementia research. The research led to the realization that as I dancer, as well as a fitness instructor, I was in a unique position to combine four of the most powerful activities for staving off cognitive decline: music, dance, aerobic activity, and cognitive challenge into a single program not only for those with early to mid dementia, but for a general population who simply want to keep their brains tuned up. The Body, Mind, and Movement Program™ for Brain Fitness is a unique combination of music and specific types of movement designed to stimulate blood flow to the brain, increase connectivity and communication between right and left hemispheres, and flood the brain with natural exercise-induced hormones that elevate mood and stimulate cognition. Jill has also recently trained and partnered with Dancing with Parkinson’s (DWP) Sarah Robichaud in Toronto to bring the DWP program to the Kitchener/Waterloo area. Although distinctly different, there is a great deal of overlap between the two programs as approximately 30% of those with Parkinson’s go on to develop a form of dementia, and finding alternate neural pathways is the goal of both programs.