Can You Dance Your Way to Better Brain Health?Alzheimer's, Dementia & Memory Care, Exercise & Fitness, Rehabilitation & Therapy | April 18, 2019
As we get older, it becomes more important than ever to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You may think that just means eating right and getting regular exercise but if that’s your fitness philosophy, you may be neglecting one important area: your brain health. While proper diet and exercise are both crucial components of a healthy lifestyle, keeping your brain healthy can be a bit trickier. To work out your brain, you’ll need to regularly perform activities that challenge memory, coordination, attention and cognition. Your usual workout may not check all these boxes but American Senior Communities knows of one activity that not only helps you flex your muscles and your brain, it’s also a lot of fun. If you’re looking to improve your brain health, dancing may be exactly what you need. Here’s some information about how dancing can be the ideal way to keep your mind sharp well into your senior years.
How Does Dancing Affect the Brain?
Whether you’re 5 years old or 75 years old, dancing requires the same level of mental activity. In addition to the complex movements that need to be coordinated with music, you’ll also need to remember and recall a series of dance moves. Performing these types of movements provides significant stimulation to the brain, a fact that’s been documented by numerous studies. The efficacy of dance in improving mental function has been so widely accepted by the medical community, in fact, it’s currently being used to help treat patients with Parkinson’s disease as well as for those living with diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia.
People with Parkinson’s suffer a number of debilitating motor skill symptoms including slowed movement, tremors, difficulties with balance and coordination and stiffness in the limbs. While most research in this area is purely observational at this point, many people with Parkinson’s have experienced significant improvements in motor function after a regular regimen of rhythmic auditory stimulation similar to the types of movements associated with dancing. With more research, these techniques could likely be adapted to a treatment program for Parkinson’s disease and other brain disorders.
For those living with various forms of dementia, dancing has also been shown to improve quality of life from a variety of standpoints. For example, physical activity has been shown to have benefits related to the physical, cognitive and emotional domains of wellness for those living with Alzheimer’s disease and other memory challenges. Additionally, the social component of dancing cannot be overlooked when considering the importance of human interactions in the lives of those living with dementia.
Of course, dancing isn’t just for people with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease; literally anyone can benefit from dancing in a number of ways: mentally, physically and socially. If you’re a senior who’s looking for a fun way to stay in shape, meet new people and keep your mind sharp, American Senior Communities would like to suggest that you consider talking to your doctor about whether or not you’re healthy enough to take up dancing as a hobby. If you’re in the clear, there are lots of ways for you to discover your joy of movement, from signing up for a dance class to simply putting on some music and dancing at home. Learning new moves and dance routines will help you make new connections in your brain that can slow the progression of neurological degenerative disorders, so don’t be afraid to try something new. Get out there on the dance floor and get moving!