The brain controls various aspects of thinking, such as organizing, planning, remembering, and making decisions. These abilities have an impact on the way we perform daily tasks.
As we get older, the brain also changes and experiences both physical and cognitive changes. For instance, certain parts of the brain shrink, communication between nerve cells can be reduced in certain brain regions, and blood flow may also decrease.
Therefore, the fact that some changes in thinking occur as people get older doesn’t come as surprise. For example, elderly individuals may have mild decreases in the ability to pay attention, problems with multi-tasking, and increased difficulty recalling names.
The good news is that a healthy life both mentally and physically can help fight the changes of an aging brain. Measures to prevent cardiovascular disease may also help. Another protective factor that has been recently acknowledged may surprise you, though. Namely, studies show that dancing helps maintain a healthy and youthful brain.
According to a study published in the journal “Frontiers in Human Neuroscience,” dancing, when compared with other activities, was extremely effective in reversing aging in the brain.
Whether you dance regularly or just go out and dance occasionally, it can improve the functionality of your brain in many ways. It can be a potent tool which allows new challenges for both the body and mind.
The study examined MRI brain scans and their correlation with age-related brain degeneration. It lasted 18 months and compared dancing to genres like Latin American and Jazz, with traditional exercise. It was found that their brain structure of people with an average age of 68 dramatically improved after engaging in weekly dance routines.
The increase of the hippocampus area of the brain as a result of dancing exercises is very exciting, because this area of the brain is most known for age-related declines. Particularly for people who may suffer from diseases like Alzheimer`s, this is a great news.
According to the study, the benefits of dancing go far beyond strengthening the hippocampus. It also showed that dance routines increased balance, flexibility training, and endurance. As the body and brain grow older, balance becomes critical to maintaining safety and health. Particularly for elderly individuals, maintaining balance can be the key to preventing injuries.
Dancing is a combination of cognitive demands, sensorimotor skills, and aerobic fitness while having a very low risk of injuries. This makes it an activity with great potential for improving balance and brain structure.
“Dancing seems to be a promising intervention for both improving balance and brain structure in the elderly. It combines aerobic fitness, sensorimotor skills, and cognitive demands while at the same time the risk of injuries is low,” the study concludes.