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Dancing benefits the brain as well as the body

Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, whichever you fancy there’s no doubt that dancing is an enjoyable hobby that can be appreciated at all stages of life. Lucky for your dancing feet, it’s also a great form of exercise that also has benefits for your brain. As we age, functions like memory, learning, and navigation tend to decline. These are controlled by the hippocampus (HC) of the brain, which also plays a role in balance control and diseases like Alzheimer’s.

New research published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, reveals that older adults that exercise can reverse signs of an aging brain, however dancing was most beneficial. Fifty two healthy older adult volunteers between 63-80 years old enrolled in the study which compared dancing with aerobic exercise over 18 months. Participants were screened for cognitive and physical function at the beginning, midpoint and end of the intervention and they were randomly assigned to the dance or the aerobic activity group. Interestingly, researchers found that both activities showed an increase in HC function, however only dance was associated with a significant improvement in balance. Investigators believe that the extra challenges presented by speed, tempo, rhythm, arm motions and a new “routine” each week are responsible for the benefit.

Current research suggests that exercise in general can help battle age related brain decline; this is the first study that shows that a specific type of exercise is better than another.

Published February 1, 2018

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