Dancing and Your Brain

 

Image result for older couple dancing

We all know that exercise is important for maintaining our physical health and function as we age. But did you know that certain types of exercise also help maintain your brain? This month we will look at some of the cognitive benefits of dancing. Get ready to kick up your heels!

The Brain Changes With Age

Aging is associated with gradual changes in our memory and attention. It is important to preserve these abilities so that we can live safely and independently into our old age. Dancing has been shown to help maintain these functions. Exercise (such as dancing) causes the release of growth factors in the brain. These chemicals help to nourish the connections between nerve cells (1).

The Effects of an Enriched Environment

Enriched environments are stimulating to the brain. They provide the brain with lots of interesting information to work with. This keeps the brain active and using its numerous connections. Research has shown that animals living in enriched environments have delayed changes in their brains (1). Attending a dance is an example of being in an enriched environment. Dancing includes being physically active, moving in rhythmic ways, using memory and recall of dancing patterns, and balance reactions. Dancing also involves social interactions, emotions, and music. All of these factors add up to powerful stimulation for the brain.

 

So get out there and dance to keep your brain young!

 

1) Kattenstroth JC, Kolankowska I, Kalisch T, Dinse HR. Superior sensory, motor, and cognitive performance in elderly individuals with multi-year dancing activities. Front. Aging Neurosci., 21 July 2010. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2010.0003.