There’s never been a better excuse to dance the night away than this newly discovered benefit of dancing. According to a new study, dancing can help elderly people reverse signs of aging in the brain.
Researchers studied the brains of 26 senior folks split into groups of “fitness” and “dancing,” and they published the findings in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Over the course of 18 months, the “dancing” group learned dance routines weekly while the fitness group did training in endurance and flexibility. And the results were truly fascinating.
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Both groups showed an increase in the brain’s hippocampus, which is crucial because this area plays a role in both memory and balance and also relates to diseases like Alzheimer’s. But only the dancing group showed significant signs of greatly improving their balance, likely a result of learning dance routines each week.
“We tried to provide our seniors in the dance group with constantly changing dance routines of different genres (jazz, square, Latin-American, and line dance),” said study leader Dr. Kathrin Rehfeld. “Steps, arm-patterns, formations, speed, and rhythms were changed every second week to keep them in a constant learning process. The most challenging aspect for them was to recall the routines under the pressure of time and without any cues from the instructor.”
It’s worthwhile to note that larger studies will need to be performed in order to further investigate the effect. But the early signs definitely suggest that dancing as you get older can keep your mind sharper — and possibly even offset diseases like Alzheimer’s.
“I believe that everybody would like to live an independent and healthy life, for as long as possible,” said Dr. Rehfeld. “I think dancing is a powerful tool to set new challenges for body and mind, especially in older age.”
Well, we don’t know about you, but we feel like busting a move right about now!
Find out more genius ways to age-proof your brain in the video below.
h/t IFL Science!