Aging is only a number, they say, but our body is undoubtedly subjected to the normal process of aging. Thus, along with the rest of the body, our brains age as well.
It has been found that approximately 40% of people over the age of 65 will experience memory loss to an extent. Additionally, as we age, we become more prone to conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
However, scientists have recently found that exercise — specifically dancing- maintains the brain in a healthy and youthful state just like it does to the entire body!
Namely, the journal “Frontiers in Human Neuroscience” published a study which compared the effects of dancing to the ones of other physical activities and discovered that it is highly effective in reversing aging in the brain.
Dancing enhances the brain function in various ways and represents a challenging activity for both, the body and mind.
For 18 months, scientists compared the MRI brain scans of participants while dancing to different music genres, like jazz and Latin-American dances, and when doing traditional exercise.
They discovered that the brain structure of individuals with an average age of 68 was drastically improved after participating in weekly choreographed dance routines. Namely, the noticed an increase of the hippocampus area of their brain due to the dancing exercises, an area most known for incurring age-related declines, like Alzheimer’s.
Moreover, the study showed that choreographed dance routines also improved their balance, endurance, and flexibility, and thus lowers the risk of injuries. The balance improvements are believed to be due to the need for coordinating footsteps and arm patterns along with speed and rhythm changes while learning the choreography.
Dancing is a low-risk activity that combines aerobic fitness, demands sensorimotor skills, and improves cognitive abilities.
The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports published a paper whose goal was to investigate the way various forms of physical activity affected about 1,000 elderly Japanese women and the effects it has on their risk of becoming physically disabled, as measured by their ability to complete tasks like walking, bathing, yoga, dancing, and dressing.
Researchers found that dancing lowered their risk up to 73%, which they believe is due to the fact that it requires a variety of different skills, both mental and physical.
Namely, dancing demands strength, balance, endurance skills, as well as cognitive abilities. Dancers need to be able to focus and adapt to the partner and the music, and at the same time, they need to memorize the choreography, while developing their artistry for graceful and fluid motion.
What more do you need to turn on the music and let the beat move your body?