by Danielle Boroumand Published on May 29, 2019
Giving a SHOUT OUT to our Good Friend and Colleague, Rachel Baribeau for this find!
They say age is merely a number. But no matter how young or old we may feel, there’s no denying that our brains still age. As we age, approximately 40% of individuals over the age of 65 will experience memory loss to some degree.
In addition to normal aging, conditions such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s further affect the brain as we get older. However, recent studies show that exercise- specifically dancing- not only helps maintain a healthy and youthful body, but also your brain! (1)
A study, published in the journal “Frontiers in Human Neuroscience,” showed that dancing (when compared with other physical activities), was overwhelmingly effective in reversing aging in the brain. (2)
Dancing For Your Brain
Whether you like to just go out and dance, or are a regular dance class attendee, dancing can help improve the functionality of your brain in various ways. Dancing can be a powerful tool that allows new challenges for the body and mind.
The study in “Frontiers in Human Neuroscience,” examined MRI brain scans and their relationship between age-related brain degeneration. The study took place within 18 months and compared dancing to different genres, such as Jazz and Latin-American, with traditional exercise. It found that in individuals with an average age of 68 that their brain structure made dramatic improvements after participating in weekly choreographed dance routines.
The perceived increase of the hippocampus area of the brain due to dancing exercises is exciting, as this region of the brain is most known for incurring age-related declines. Especially for those who may suffer from diseases such as Alzheimer’s, this is welcome news. (2)
Get Up and Dance!
The study showed benefits of dancing that stretch far beyond the strengthening of the memory (hippocampus) region of the brain. The research also showed that choreographed dance routines also boosted endurance, flexibility training, and balance. As our bodies and brains grow older, balance becomes key to maintaining health and safety in many instances. Especially for those who are elders, maintaining balance can be critical to severely injuring oneself.
Dancing combines aerobic fitness, sensorimotor skills, and cognitive demands while also having a low risk of incurring injuries. For this reason, dancing seems to be an activity that promises to be beneficial in improving balance and brain structure.
“Dancing seems to be a promising intervention for both improving balance and brain structure in the elderly. It combines aerobic fitness, sensorimotor skills and cognitive demands while at the same time the risk of injuries is low,” the study states. (2)
Researchers believe the improvements in balance may be connected to the difficulty of coordinating footsteps and arm patterns along with speed and rhythm changes that take place when learning choreography. (2)
Now we know that dance can be a great way to maintain and improve many of your brain functions. There’s no better time to start dancing like no one’s watching than now. Your brain will thank you later!
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