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Body, Mind & Spirit: Music, movement and memory


By Pat Larsen

For Capital Region Independent Media

Headshot of a female named Pat Larsen
Pat Larsen

Having the distinct advantage of being able to bring music and movement programs to this community has truly inspired my weekly playlists based on the enthusiastic responses of the participants.

Without much more prompting than an introduction to a song from back in the day, I get to watch that spark ignited within each person. That then draws upon reflections of days gone by with a lightness and an ease from everyday aches and pains or issues that cause unending worries.

Our rule is “when we walk through the doors to a class, we leave all THAT stuff behind for the hour.” 

It’s the cheers of acknowledgement and the knowing of the familiar that inspires the enthusiasm in each and every class that music brings. 

Whether it is a song from our school days or one that reminds someone of the day they were married, it is amazing the amount of detail each person is able to recall. It’s here that our memories excel.

There is an astounding effect that music can have on behavior, a mood and then, surprisingly, on the quality of one’s life, too.

Our mission is to have fun.

Opening the doors to the memory vaults within us all is proving to be an excellent value to minds that tend to get stagnant from lack of use. Yes, isolation from community and not being able to have regular interaction can lead to a definite decline that reinforces memory loss or robs us of any attempts to recall a period of time.

Music allows us to unlock and then retrieve memories and open a closed door within the brain. There is a growing body of evidence that music can “reactivate areas of the brain associated with memory loss, reasoning, speech, and emotion.” Several additional studies have found that not only does music reactivate the brain to restore memories, but it also helps lay down the foundation for new building blocks to form.

This is why I absolutely love the results of being able to teach fitness programs with access to the best music from the ‘50s and ‘60s. There is no coincidence why I chose to become licensed in this area of fitness. I truly get to witness such amazing results every week among those who participate from ages 60 to 90.

In addition, we navigate aging bodies through healthy moves that improve balance and posture. 

Win-win, wrapped up in an Elvis song! 

Music fuels memory. Movement reinforces a healthy body. Why not do all you can to fill that tank?

Pat Larsen is a licensed fitness instructor bringing programs to The Shamrock House in East Durham mornings twice a week for seniors and Baby Boomers. Aging With Grace… growing wiser with age is Pat’s latest endeavor to bring “non-exercise-based” educational programs to seniors and Baby Boomers also. Contact Pat directly to find out if  any of these programs might be a good fit for you or a loved one by calling 518-275-8686.

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