Health & Wellness

Dancing Is Good for Your Brain

The secret to staying young—both mentally and physically—may be out on the dance floor.

By Katrina Caruso

 

As the Bee Gees put it, “You should be dancing.”

According to research published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, dancing has anti-aging effects on the brain.

In an effort to compare the brain health benefits of taking dance classes with those of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, researchers at the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Disease and Institute for Sports Science in Magdeburg, Germany, studied participants (average age, 68) who took a weekly dance course, learning choreographed routines. Their findings showed that both dancing and aerobic activities such as walking and riding a bike boosted the volume of grey matter in the hippocampus. The part of the brain that helps with learning, short- and long-term memory, and navigation, the hippocampus typically declines in volume as we age. Dancing had the added benefit of improving the participants’ balance.

The Magdeburg researchers are hoping to use their results to come up with dance and music thereapy programs to help dementia patients.

No one can argue that aerobic exercise is bad for you, and dancing gets you out socializing, so, if you’re looking for ways to stay young in mind and body as well as at heart, consider taking up a dance class.

Photo: iStock/PhotoInc.