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February 9, 2018
How dancing helps reverse signs of aging in the brain

Here’s a tidbit to keep in your back pocket as you continue dancing through your years….

A study published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, shows that older people who routinely partake in physical exercise can reverse the signs of aging in the brain, and dancing has the most profound effect.

Yesss. Keep on this dance-path, and our future’s are looking pretty bright, fam. 😎

The relationship between Dance <> Aging

Fun Fact: Dancing regularly increases the size of the hippocampus, an area that can be prone to age-related decline.

How they know? Among various studies, we can thank German scientist Dr Kathrin Rehfeld for looking into the deets for us. In a study she led at the German center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, volunteers (average age of 68) underwent two modes of physical fitness.

Mode 1 was an 18-month weekly course of learning dance routines
Mode 2 was endurance and flexibility training

Both groups showed an increase in the hippocampus region of the brain, BUT only dancing created a noticeable change in behavior.

 

Whaaa? So cool but how?

The hippocampus (the area of the brain most affected by these 18 months of dancing) helps us in the following ways:

1.// Plays a key role in long-term memory
2.// Plays a key role in learning
3.// Plays a key role in keeping one’s balance and spatial navigation
4.// It is associated with emotions and motivation

So dancing was attributed to this hippocampus growth because it was unlike endurance training and resistance training — aka same stuff, different day. For example the treadmill that leads to nowhere or the Nordic track (remember those?) that keeps you feeling like your’e just pumping your legs up and down, in a circular-ish motion, for dayyyys.

Dancing kept participants on their toes as they were exposed to new routines every week, challenged by different moves and forced to be aware of their bodies in space. They were also moving their bodies on more than one plane (side to side, backwards and forwards, etc.) which made for a richer experience and challenged their brain in more ways.

All of which makes for a great recipe for staying fresh, alert and increasing that hippocampus size. 👍

Last nugget from Dr. Rehfeld to send you dancing into your next few decades:

“I believe that everybody would like to live an independent and healthy life, for as long as possible. Physical activity is one of the lifestyle factors that can contribute to this, counteracting several risk factors and slowing down age-related decline. I think dancing is a powerful tool to set new challenges for body and mind, especially in older age.”

All right y’all. May this serve as your morning inspiration to just. keep. dancing.

 

#morningmischief

Photo by Rebecca Bishop

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