Do you love dancing? I know I do and I’ve always wanted to learn ballroom dancing. Recent studies have shown that dancing has a profound effect on reversing the signs of aging in the brain and also improved balance.
Any form of exercise is vital as we age to keep us healthy physically but also it can help us fight against age-related brain decline.
Why you should be dancing after 60!
Dr Kathrin Rehfeld, was the lead author of the study, recently published in ‘Frontiers in Human Neuroscience’, and is based at the German center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Magdeburg, Germany.
The study showed that two different types of physical exercise (dancing and endurance training) both increased the area of the brain that declines with age. However, it was only dancing showed that noticeable behavioral changes in terms of improved balance.
Volunteers (average age 68) over 18 months, were given either a weekly course of learning dance routines or training in flexibility and endurance. ‘Both groups showed an increase in the hippocampus region of the brain. This is important because this area can be prone to age-related decline and is affected by diseases like Alzheimer’s. It also plays a key role in memory and learning, as well as keeping one’s balance.’
The volunteers in the flexibility and endurance training did the same exercises every week. However, the volunteers in the dance study were given different routines every second week which challenged their thought and learning processes. The extra challenges are thought to be the reason for the increased balance displayed in the dancing group.
Have you heard of Jymmin?
A new system called “Jymmin” (jamming and gymnastic) is currently being evaluated by Dr Rehfeld.
‘This is a sensor-based system which generates sounds (melodies, rhythm) based on physical activity. We know that dementia patients react strongly when listening to music. We want to combine the promising aspects of physical activity and active music making in a feasibility study with dementia patients.”
If you would like more information about the studies you can read Dancing or Fitness Sport? The Effects of Two Training Programs on Hippocampal Plasticity and Balance Abilities in Healthy Seniors
So put on your dancing shoes and turn up the volume and bust out some moves. You will keep fit and have fun at the same time!
Next week I will be introducing you to a woman who loves belly dancing and doesn’t let chronic illness stand in her way!