Science is improving day by day, revealing things we previously didn’t know. For example, we’ve known that neuroplasticity can be improved with physical activity for some time now. This means that age-related brain degeneration can be neutralized by something as simple as dancing.
Dancing, as some of you may know, is not just a simple motor skill – it utilizes the brain as well. It has great benefits for our body and mind – apart from the fact that it’s burning calories, it’s also great for our brain. That goes in addition to the fact that it’s thoroughly enjoyable.
Can Dancing Stop Cognitive Decline?
As we age, our bodies and minds start deteriorating. That’s completely normal since the aging process can’t be stopped. However, there are many factors that accelerate age-related cognitive impairment and it seems that dancing is one of the things that can prevent it. The newest studies have revealed that dancing can keep you young just like any other physical activity and maybe even better.
You don’t even need to love parties to enjoy it. If jogging or running every morning is simply too tedious for you and interferes with your busy schedule, dancing is the way to go to stay in shape both mentally and physically.
The prestigious Frontiers in Human Neuroscience journal recently published a study that examined the effects of dancing on our brain and age-related cognitive decline. It compared the effects of jazz and Latin-American dancing to the effects of traditional cardio exercise in participants with an average age of 68.
What Did the Study Find Out?
Over 18 months, the results showed that weekly choreographed dance routines made dramatic improvements in the brain structure of the participants in the hippocampus. Traditional exercise wasn’t even close to the results of dancing. The hippocampus, for those of you unaware, is an area of the brain responsible for creating new memories. It is associated with emotions and learning as well. Since the study results showed that its activity can be improved, it’s music to Alzheimer’s patients’ ears. On top of improving the way our hippocampus works, dancing can also improve our physical health. From balance and coordination to the undeniable fact that it burns calories, dancing is great for our body.
“By combining aerobic fitness, cognitive performance, and sensorimotor skills, dancing can reverse age-related cognitive decline and is a promising intervention for improving the brain structure in the elderly,” the study stated. It’s one of the most complex “exercises” for our body and mind and one of the safest as well – there’s almost no risk of injury unlike hitting the gym.
Having to remember dance steps and execute them to perfection requires a lot of intense physical and mental work. Your body and mind need to work in unison for you to perfect a choreographic routine. Do this regularly, and you will improve the way your body and mind work. Researchers in the study attributed the improvements in balance to learning choreography which requires complex pattern and rhythm changes with footstep coordination.
Then there’s the social aspect of dancing. We often underestimate it, yet it’s quite important as well. When you dance with others, you’re socializing in a special way that decreases stress and helps reduce tension. Have you ever seen a sad person dance? The answer is obviously no since dancing is a happy/positive routine. All these components work in synergy to make dancing effective at slowing down age-related cognitive decline and other diseases such as depression.
Dance Your Mind Away
Although the study’s results should be taken with a pinch of salt, it doesn’t hurt to try it. Dancing is fun and great for your body – there’s no question about it. A multi-tasking activity with plenty of benefits for the body and mind, there’s no harm done to try it. If the study’s results are 100% true, join a class and learn a dance or two – after all, it won’t do any harm and your stress levels will go down.