Dancing has always been a part of important rituals, part of many celebrations and a form of entertainment. Furthermore, dancing is a way of relieving stress and expressing yourself.
No one can deny that dancing feels great, and that it is also good for the body. Besides the many other uses it has, such as sharing culture and stories through dancing, or making contact with others when language is a barrier, this form of expression has many benefits to offer to your health.
Moreover, this doesn’t simply refer to the physical benefits (staying in top shape with classes like Zumba), but mental ones, which have largely been ignored up till now. In fact, recent studies suggest that dancing may be the best way for both strengthening and protecting one’s brain.
Your Brain and Dancing
Researchers in North America are constantly looking for ways to prevent, minimize and treat age-related diseases such as Parkinson’s, Dementia and Alzheimer’s. While it is no novelty news that one’s brain health can benefit from exercise, it now appears that dancing, in particular, is also very beneficial.
Read on if you’re interested to know why.
The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases’s Dr. Kathrin Rehfeld conducted a study. In the study there is a comparison between various elderly groups given specific exercise routines for about 18 months. One group has been assigned flexibility and endurance training (cycling or Nordic walking), and another group has been assigned weekly dance lessons.
They give the dancing group something new each week, whether it is a new step, new routine or new genre. And while there was an increase in the brain’s hippocampus center (an area which is especially vulnerable to age-related diseases and decline) in all groups, the dance group was the one which experienced the most noticeable difference. And because their dance moves and rhythms were changed every two weeks, they were constantly challenged with something new, thus they were part of a constant learning process.
Balance and Coordination
Coordination and balance are not always so easy and these become even harder as we age. The challenges we face with aging are becoming dizzy, losing our balance, and falling. As a result, the older we get, the more likely we are to experience a severe injury due to loss of balance. The great news is that dancing improves and trains all of the areas mentioned above.
The inability to recall names, numbers, places, facts, and dates is a part of the regular aging process in most people. But it may be an indication to Dementia and Alzheimer’s in some cases. The beauty of dancing is that one connects the mental (learning new steps as well as the order they came in) with the physical (executing the routine itself). This results in strengthening the neuronal connections in one’s brain and an improved memory.
Dancing Makes You Happy
Go to any club, bar, pub, dance class, concert or wedding, and you will find happy individuals who are enjoying the movement of their bodies to the music. This is because:
- It’s physical. Meaning, it gets you moving. And the chances are that it’ll make you at least a little bit sweaty and panting by the end of it. This natural and fun form of exercising does wonders for one’s muscles, lungs, joints, and heart. What is more, it’s a fantastic way to burn a lot of calories while having fun.
- It helps with shedding stress. Stress is the #1 cause for most health problems and illnesses nowadays. Not to mention the strain it puts on both our mental and physical well-being. Dancing helps you forget about your daily worries. Or at least, put them aside for later, giving you the time to ‘let go’.
- It allows you to connect with others. Dancing is an excellent way to socialize and bond with others. In older individuals, isolation has become an everyday issue, leading not to just diseases, but also cognitive decline, or even a premature death.
It’s safe to conclude that dancing, in all its forms, holds benefits for not just our physical, but emotional and mental well-being too. This goes especially for all of you which are slowly but surely entering your ‘golden years’.