As we grow older, we will see a decline in our physical and mental health. However, recent studies have shown that aging in the brain can be reversed if we routinely take part in physical exercises. By dancing to our favourite beat and kicking up our feet, we may be able to keep our mind healthier for longer. For example, a recent study led by Kathrin Rehfeld, from The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, has shown that dancing might be good for your brain.
Rehfeld and her team looked at the effects of two types of exercise on the brain – dancing or fitness sport. The elderly participants had an average age of 68 and were assigned to either an 18-month weekly course of learning new dance routines or endurance and flexibility training. Both groups showed an increase in the hippocampal region – an area related to memory. This is also an area of the brain that is affected by diseases like Alzheimer’s.
It is important to note that previous research has shown that physical exercise can help to decrease age-related brain decline. For example, in March, a study led by Aga Burzynska, a Colorado State University researcher, was able to demonstrate how the decline in the brain’s white matter can be detected over a period of six months in healthy aging adults. A group of participants who participated in dance classes during the period saw an improved white matter integrity in areas of the brain that relate to memory and processing speed. “Older adults often ask how they can keep their brain healthy,” said Burzynska. “Dance may end up being one way to do that for the white matter.”
“I think it’s amazing,” said Yuqin Jiao, Burzynska’s CSU graduate student who worked on the study’s findings. “It shows that when it comes to the effects of aging, it’s never too late to change. I think that’s important information to deliver: that there’s hope.”
Burzynska’s research was able to show how dancing can help reverse the effects of the aging brain. However, Rehfeld’s new research goes one step further and demonstrates how different types of exercise can influence the aging brain. In a statement, Dr Rehfeld explains, “We tried to provide our seniors in the dance group with constantly changing dance routines of different genres.” She went on to say that “it was only dancing that lead to noticeable behavioral changes in terms of improved balance.” Rehfeld said “I think dancing is a powerful tool to set new challenges for body and mind, especially in older age.”
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I am Luke Miller, content manager at Truth Theory and creator of Potential For Change. I like to blend psychology and spirituality to help you create more happiness in your life.Grab a copy of my free 33 Page Illustrated eBook- Psychology Meets Spirituality- Secrets To A Supercharged Life You Control Here