As we grow older, we suffer a decline in mental health and physical fitness, which can be made worse by Alzeheimer’s and other related conditions. All of this is completely natural and is bound to happen to each of us at some point down the road: that’s life. But did you know you can slow down, or even counteract age-related decline by dancing?
A recent study shows that people who routinely partake in physical exercise can reverse the signs of aging in the brain. The best exercise? Dancing! The study shows that dancing and endurance training (cycling, for example), both increase the area of the brain that declines as you age: the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that plays a key role in memory and learning and if impacted by something like Alzheimer’s, the effects can be dramatic.
To examine the impact physical fitness has on the hippocampus, scientists examined a group of elderly volunteers, putting them on either an eighteen-month weekly dance routine program or an endurance training course. The result? It was the dancers who experienced noticeable behavior changes.
Unlike the endurance trainees, the dancing elders were challenged with something new each week. Latin dance, the salsa, line dancing, you name it; speeds and routines constantly changed in order to keep the dancers’ minds in a constant learning process. Most of the time, the dancers would have to perform under pressure, through time constraints or lack of instruction. By putting the dancers to the test week after week, scientist were able to witness a “noticeable difference” in balance, when compared to the endurance trainees; a positive difference!
Previous research has shown staying fit can lead to a long, healthy life. Heck, you’ve probably heard that all the time in P.E. class growing up. So, if you enjoy running, long walks, hikes, etc. they all help prevent mental and physical age-decline. Dancing, however, is a powerful tool you can use to set new challenges for body and mind, especially in older age- the payoff being more beneficial than the physical activities listed above. So keep doing what you’re doing now: moving and grooving! And don’t stop any time soon. It does a body and mind a world of good!
What songs get you moving and grooving? Let us know in the comments below!