Turn on some music around a baby and watch as that baby begins to bounce to the rhythm of the music.
We all start dancing when we’re babies and we should never stop because it’s good for our brain.
Brain function begins to decline as we age and dancing can stop the decline and in some cases even reverse signs of aging in the brain.
According to research, older people who regularly participate in physical activity, like dancing, can reverse memory loss and other signs of age-related brain decline.
Any type of moderate exercise is beneficial for keeping the mind and body healthy and for slowing down the aging process, but dancing specifically helps keep the brain from aging.
How Dancing Affects Our Aging Brain
Research has proven that any type of physical exercise helps to slow down the aging process of the brain as well as the body in general.
Regular physical activity enlarges the area of the brain that grows smaller as we age, but dancing takes it one step further to improve brain health.
Dancing is very physical and engages the whole body, improving balance and causing a noticeable behavioral change in older people.
The hippocampus region of the brain is increased by dancing, and this is the region that’s affected by age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Age-related decline in the hippocampus region of the brain manifests as memory loss, inability to learn new things and loss of balance.
Strength training, walking, swimming or other forms of exercise don’t benefit the brain as much as dancing does.
Other forms of exercise don’t increase the hippocampus region of the brain and are unable to reverse the signs of brain aging but they do help strengthen the body.
Learn Dancing Steps Regularly
Traditional exercises, such as walking, swimming, and weight lifting, are repetitive motions and nothing new is learned.
The same motions are used during each exercise session and it’s possible to read a book or watch a favorite television program while performing some of these exercises.
Traditional repetitive style exercises allow the brain to be disengaged from the activity so it’s not being increased.
Dancing is different because it requires your full attention.
The rhythm of the music and where to place your foot next requires focus.
The brain is fully engaged in dancing just like the body and you can learn a new dance or step every week.
Learning something new challenges the brain and increases it which helps to stave off age-related brain function decline.
As the body sways to the music and the dance steps are taken, the brain is increasing and balance is improving.
The dance steps can be as simple or as complicated as you want, the key is to keep learning something new every week to challenge your brain.
Good balance is also vital as we age.
A fall that results in a fractured bone can cause an aging person to become wheelchair-bound or bedridden. Reverse signs of brain aging and improve balance by changing the dance steps every week.
What Kind of Dancing?
The style of dance is not as important. It’s the movement and the active learning of the steps that matter.
The study, which was conducted with senior citizens, used many different dance types, including country line dancing, jazz, square and Latin, and all produced the same brain-increasing results.
Steps, arm-patterns, formations, speed, and rhythms were changed every other week to keep the senior participants in a constant learning process.
After the dances were learned they were all used at various times to prevent the movements from becoming routine and keeping the brain engaged in the activity.
Dance your favorite dance and learn new ones – you can even create your own dance as long as you remember the steps.
Just be sure to change the dance style up after mastering the dance to keep the brain engaged in learning the new moves.
Dr. Rehfeld, the lead author of the study, concludes that everyone should get up and start dancing to their favorite music.
Dr.Rehfeld and her colleagues are working on a fitness program that will benefit dementia patients and help other seniors keep dancing so they (hopefully) won’t develop dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Regular physical activity of any kind will help us live a longer, healthier life but it’s dancing that helps the brain the most.
Dancing will slow down the physical aging process, stave off diseases, and keep our brain engaged and learning something new all of our life.
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