We’ve published multiple stories in the past about how great dancing and live music is for your overall health. Now, in a study from last year published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, they take it to another level. Not only is it good for you, but it might actually reverse the signs of aging in your brain. Is there anything that dancing and live music can’t do?
Reversing aging in the brain
The study specifically goes after older dancers, with an average age of 68. Don’t let that deter anyone from getting out there and starting the habit now though. Over the course of eighteen months, subjects learned dance routines, endurance, and flexibility training. The hippocampus area of the brain was affected the most throughout the study.
This is important because most age-related decline hits this area and is affected by diseases like Alzheimer’s. The hippocampus is also important for aspects of memory, learning, and keeping one’s balance. It should be no surprise that dancing will help your balance, but now we know why. Dr. Kathrin Rehfeld explains,
We tried to provide our seniors in the dance group with constantly changing dance routines of different genres (jazz, square, Latin American, and line dance). Steps, arm-patterns, formations, speed, and rhythms were changed every second week to keep them in a constant learning process.
The most challenging aspect for them was to recall the routines under the pressure of time and without any cues from the instructor.
The diversity of the challenges was thought to be one of the main factors in how it all affected the brain. Where most forms of exercise can help in age-related brain decline, the challenges that are associated with dancing (especially across multiple genres, styles, etc.) bring promising support to the theories. Not only were the subjects getting the physical benefits, but having to memorize routines, styles, and more, made their brains work hard to put it all together.
What about balance?
Another important aspect that was touched on above is the balance of participants. Regular exercise can help in a lot of the same areas as dancing, but when it comes to real behavioral changes and improved balance, dancing is where it’s at.
So not only will going to more concerts help you live longer, but if you add dancing in there it’ll reverse aging, burn calories, improve your mood, and give you a more social life. All of this comes together to suggest that even if you’re not the biggest fan of getting down on the dance floor, you should consider it.
I mean, at the end of the day you’ve gotta think about your health. Right?