If you already love dancing, you’re in for some good news. A new study in “Frontiers of Human Neuroscience” has found that individuals with an average age of 68 had dramatic improvements in brain structure after participating in weekly choreographed dance routines. The participants showed an increase in the hippocampus, or memory, area of the brain, which is known for being the culprit in age-related declines, particularly in the case of Alzheimer’s. In short, regular dancing reverses the signs of aging in the brain.
The Benefits of Dancing for Seniors
The study compared different genres of dancing to traditional exercise over an 18-month period. The benefits went far beyond strengthening the hippocampus, too. The choreographed dance routines produced an array of health benefits for seniors, including:
As with other forms of exercise, dancing includes aerobic fitness, which is obviously good for the heart and hormones. But it also includes sensor and motor skills as well as cognitive demands as you remember and follow the steps, which stimulates the brain in ways that walking, cycling, and weightlifting don’t do. Dancing also has a lower risk of injury than other more strenuous forms of exercise.
Dance Offers a Promising Improvement for Individuals with Parkinson’s
This new study follows on the heels of recent research that shows that dancing can help with motor function in individuals with Parkinson’s Disease. One study’s participants showed a 2.37-point reduction in motor disability scores on the MDS-UPDRS III after attending a 60-minute dance class once a week for 10 weeks as compared to a control group. The participants in dance therapy also showed improvement in their ability to perform daily activities. While the study at Northwestern University was small (only nine participants), these are still promising results.
Dance Like No One is Watching
As an added benefit, dancing can provide a social outlet, which is extremely important as we age. A regular dance class can give seniors the motivation to get out of the house, especially if there’s a partner waiting for you. Many gyms and senior centers offer dance classes at different levels and abilities, which are also great places to meet new friends and socialize. Learning partner dances like swing, salsa, or ballroom can offer a good opening to meeting people at clubs or dance meet-ups, too.
At the end of the day, dancing is a fantastic source of exercise for people of any age. It’s worthwhile to get out and dance, whether you sign up for a class, take a partner out for a night on the town, or just get your groove on in the comfort of your own living room. You have plenty of great reasons to cut loose and dance like no one is watching.
Need some inspiration on simple dance moves? Check out this video from Dr. Peter Lovatt, aka Dr. Dance!
If you’re looking for ways to assist your aging loved one with fresh ideas on how to stay active get in touch and our team is happy to assist. We have various programs and professional care managers certified in helping make the process of aging comfortable and manageable.