Last week, we talked about playing video and computer games as a fun way to keep your brain in shape (click here to read that article). Here’s another way beyond doing crossword puzzles to help maintain brain functions, including memory, perception, learning, and creativity, as you age – and enjoy the exercise.
How Dancing Helps Our Brains
Dancing keeps our brains healthy as well as maintaining physical fitness and providing social interaction.
Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine study of people age 75 and older for 21 years, measuring the effects of various recreational activities on their brains. They studied cognitive activities (reading books, playing cards, doing crossword puzzles) as well as physical activities (playing tennis or golf, swimming, bicycling, dancing, walking). A surprising result of this study showed that frequent dancing is the only physical activity that offers protection against dementia!
Learning a new dance improves our brain in these ways:
- Sharpens mental acuity (that’s because dancing involves split-second decision making)
- “Rewires” the brain or improves neural connections and increases mental capacity
- Generates new brain pathways which aids in creative thinking
- Integrates and engages different brain functions at once – kinesthetic, rational, musical and emotional.
What Kind of Dancing Is Best?
While all types of dancing are good for your body, studies have shown that social partner dances such as foxtrot, swing, waltz, mambo and salsa, also challenge your mind. Whether you’ve led or followed while social dancing, then you’ve experienced the need for rapid decisions as you glide across the dance floor. Dancing a variety of dances and with different partners enhances your brain alertness and flexibility.
Dance Videos for Learning
If you’re not ready to boogie on down to your local dance studio for lessons, give your mind and body a workout by following one of these introductory dance videos on YouTube:
Need inspiration to get started? Watch Tao-Porchon Lynchat age 91.
What’s your favorite type of dancing? Are you taking lessons or dancing socially already?