Brain Health Fair shows how wellness can change lives

Luisa “Cookie” Redondo is healthier and happier version of the person she used to be, and now she’s helping others make that transformation, too.

“I feel wonderful; I’m optimistic,” says Redondo, 68, of Jersey City. “Zumba changed my life completely.”

Redondo was in North Bergen on Saturday to lead a Zumba class, one of many healthy activities offered during a Brain Health and Wellness Fair at the James J. Braddock North Hudson County Park.

She said seven years ago, she weighed 320 pounds and was suffering with both diabetes and high blood pressure. She knew she had to do something. That’s when she took up Zumba, which she describes as “exercise in disguise.”

Today, her weight is down to 170 pounds and she’s been teaching Zumba classes for the past six years. “It changed my life, and it has changed the lives of a lot of senior citizens,” Redondo said. “I’ve seen them go from sitting in a wheelchair to getting up and standing and walking.”

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Getting regular physical activity is one of the best ways to promote brain health and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Managing chronic conditions like diabetes and making sure your blood pressure and cholesterol level are in a healthy range can help protect cognition as well.

Kristine Allen, president of the Act Now Foundation, said that’s why Zumba, yoga, meditation and free health screenings were among the many activities featured during the Brain Fair.

“We want them to learn everything they can about the wonders of the brain,” Allen said.

The weather cooperated on Saturday as a sunny, pleasantly warm day drew a large crowd to the park. That helped the Act Now Foundation achieve its goals for the event, which Allen said were “a good turnout and people walking away with valuable information that can change their lives.”

One popular attraction was the Act Now Foundation booth, where people could test their memory by playing a variety of brain games.

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