Is Dancing Good for The Brain? Science Says Yes
As the average age of the American population rises, scientists scurry to find strategies to mitigate the negative effects of ageing on the brain.
As you get older, your neurons undergo a variety of changes, not all of which are beneficial. Dementia can completely drain the joy from your golden years. Even slight cognitive deterioration might cause enormous anxiety about things worsening.
What if there was a way to turn back the clock on your mind’s indicators of ageing?
A solution has recently been discovered, and it is entirely free. All you have to do now is move your body to the beat.
While any aerobic exercise affects neurons, data suggests that dancing is an effective strategy to reverse the effects of time.
What Happens to the Human Brain as We Grow Older?
The brain changes structurally in various ways as the years pass. You go through memory and cognitive decline, as well as microscopic changes in your cells and chemistry.
What does this look like and how does it feel?
When your cognitive abilities deteriorate, you may find it difficult to do mental tasks that were once simple.
For example, a few years ago, it might have been simple to go to the grocery shop and remember to pick up five or six products. The identical chore now necessitates a return journey. You could spend minutes poring at the labels, trying to remember what you’ve forgotten.
Every year, your working memory, or your capacity to remember pieces of information such as phone numbers and passwords, deteriorates.
Some researchers believe the process can start as early as 30 years old in some people. Your capacity to concentrate is also harmed. You could find it difficult to follow a discussion in a crowded restaurant or tune out a colicky toddler’s cries. This capacity, known as selective attention, allows you to tune out distractions, and it deteriorates as you get older.
You can also notice a drop in declarative memory. Declarative memory refers to autobiographical occurrences as well as data taught in school. Procedural memory, on the other hand, is concerned with learning how to do something, such as drive a car or ride a bicycle.
While the latter is usually preserved as you become older, your declarative memory begins to deteriorate.
1. Structural Changes
When you’re in your 30s or 40s, your brain starts to shrink, and it speeds up when you’re 60. Some parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus, disintegrate faster than others.
In general, the portions that develop last during childhood and adolescence are the first to display the consequences of ageing.
Your cerebral cortex, the part of your brain responsible for speech and decision-making, begins to deteriorate over time as well. A widespread thinning of the cortex is visible by middle age, according to MRI imaging.
The main motor cortex suffers the most damage, implying that many of the coordination issues people associate with ageing have their origins in the brain.
2. Neuronal Changes
As you get older, your brain cells endure substantial changes. Over time, oxidative damage and protein buildup increase in neuronal cells.
To keep the structural integrity of this crucial organ, you’ll require a strong antioxidant system. These toxins injure the mitochondria as aggregated proteins pile up in your neurons.
The quantity of antioxidants in your brain declines over time, resulting in cognitive deterioration.
3. Other Changes
The consequences of ageing on the brain might also be influenced by your lifestyle. Long-term substance misuse is one of the key factors that alters your brain’s physical structure.
For example, alcoholism changes the brain circuitry that governs impulse control and judgement, leading to people seeking irrational rewards .
This phenomenon explains why addicts can rationally comprehend that certain acts carry the danger of serious consequences, such as job loss or incarceration, in order to obtain their preferred narcotic.
Neurological deterioration is influenced by a variety of other factors, including seemingly unrelated health issues.
People with Type 2 diabetes, for example, had a faster rate of cognitive deterioration than those with better blood sugar control, according to new research. As blood glucose levels rose, so did performance on cognitive tasks.
Fortunately, there are steps you may take to lower your brain’s dangers.
Type 2 diabetes can be avoided by following a healthy diet and staying active. You can also cut down on your alcohol consumption.
In terms of exercise, regular cardiovascular activity may help to mitigate brain damage caused by alcoholism. One of the most effective ways to improve your cardiovascular fitness? Dancing!
Is Dancing Good for The Brain? Science Says Yes
How Dancing Aids in the Prevention of Brain Aging
Dance is a great way to keep your brain healthy as you become older. The structure of this crucial organ undergoes physiological modifications as a result of this activity. It also improves your concentration, focus, and mental strength.
- Dancing’s Physiological Effects
Every time you raise your heart rate, you bathe your neurons in oxygen-rich blood, which is one way regular dancing boosts your brain health. Because your brain cells require oxygen to function, you may notice that you think more clearly after a fast walk.
What’s the best news? It is never too late to increase your physical exercise. Walking for 30 to 50 minutes three or four times weekly enhanced blood flow to the brain by 15% in a three-month trial of women aged 60 or older.
Exercise, particularly dance, can help you sleep better, and getting enough Zs is essential for brain health. Sleeping allows your body to restore neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that influence everything from mood to focus. Consider how you’d feel if your alarm didn’t go off or if you’d been tossing and turning all night. The next day, it may be difficult to locate your lost item.
Multiple studies have found that those who exercise regularly have higher prefrontal and medial temporal complex volumes than those who do not. Because the volume of your brain shrinks over time, it makes sense that keeping a healthy quantity correlates with better cognitive abilities.
Dancing also strengthens your hippocampus, which is in charge of memory, learning, and balance. The volume of this brain region was measured using magnetic resonance imaging in 14 participants who participated in an 18-month dancing intervention. They discovered increases in the left dentate gyrus and right subiculum in the dancers, implying that this type of training is superior in preventing age-related physical and mental deterioration.
Biggest experts advocate doing out for at least 150 minutes per week, or 30 minutes each day of the workweek, to reap the most advantages. Don’t get discouraged if this seems unattainable; even getting your blood moving for ten minutes can help. What’s the best part? You can dance anywhere there’s music playing, even if it’s only in your head.
- Cardiovascular Exercise’s Physiological Effects
When you raise your heart rate, you bathe your neurons in oxygen-rich blood, which is one way regular physical activity boosts your brain health. Because your brain cells require oxygen to function, you may notice that you think more clearly after a fast walk.
The most exciting news is this: It’s never too late to start getting more exercise. Walking for 30 to 50 minutes three or four times weekly for three months boosted blood flow to the brain by 15% in a three-month trial of women aged 60 or older.
Exercise also aids in a better night’s sleep, which is essential for neurological health. Sleeping allows your body to restore neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that affect everything from mood to concentration. Consider how you’d feel if your alarm didn’t go off or if you’d been up all night. The next day, it may be difficult to locate what you’ve found.
Multiple studies have found that persons who exercise regularly have higher prefrontal and medial temporal complex volumes than those who do not . Because the volume of your brain shrinks over time, it makes sense that keeping a healthy quantity correlates with better cognitive abilities.
Biggest experts advocate doing out for at least 150 minutes per week, or 30 minutes each day of the workweek, to reap the most advantages. Don’t get discouraged if this seems unattainable; even getting your blood moving for ten minutes can help.
- Dance Improves Concentration and Focus While any aerobic activity will provide a physiological boost to the brain, the unique stresses inherent in dance may enhance the neurological benefits. Consider how you walk on a treadmill. How attentively do you pay attention to what you’re doing? Unless you’re recovering from a leg injury, probably not much. As you plod through the miles, you’re probably watching TV or listening to podcasts.
The same cannot be said for dance. When you’re moving around, you have to pay attention to a variety of things that are going on at the same time. When working with a partner, you must pay attention to their cues. If you’re taking a class, you must follow the instructor’s instructions and may try to memorise the routine.
You’re exercising both your body and your intellect. Dancing is an excellent technique to improve your capacity to think on your feet, as your ability to focus weakens with age.
The regions of the brain that contribute to dance learning and performance have been discovered by PET imaging studies. Dance stimulates your motor cortex, which is one of the first parts of your brain to reveal structural changes. It also activates the somatosensory cortex and the basal ganglia, which are both involved in movement coordination.
- Dancing’s Social Benefits
In a 2003 study, the effects of 11 various types of exercise on the risk of dementia in the elderly were investigated. Only one activity, dance, was found to reduce the risk of getting the illness. The mental work and social connection involved in this leisure activity, according to researchers, have good impacts.
Millions of senior citizens in the United States suffer from debilitating loneliness. However, there is a distinction to be made between living alone and experiencing the experience. Some people live alone but have a diverse social life. Others, even while surrounded by others, feel alone.
While loneliness may appear to be a psychological issue, it poses serious health dangers. The biology of emotion, for example, may cause immune cells to produce inflammation, which can lead to diseases as diverse as heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Dancing, by its very nature, makes you feel involved. If you go to a gym for a fitness session, a good instructor will make everyone feel welcome. You frequently make friendships with other members of your group, and it becomes more natural to invite them out for tea later.
How to Begin a Dance Fitness Program
How can you get started now that you’ve learned about the numerous advantages of dancing fitness for your brain? “I have two left feet,” you could object. “You’ll never catch me sweeping the floor.” Nonsense! Even those who use assistive devices such as wheelchairs or crutches can participate in dance. Guess what? If you can wiggle to the beat, you’re good to go. You’re doing everything correctly.
Even so, the first time you dance around your living room, you might feel a little ridiculous. If you need someone to show you the ropes, what should you do?
- Attend a Zumba class: A Zumba class incorporates movements from several worldwide dances, particularly those with Latin or African-American roots. You’ll sashay and samba your way to a healthier lifestyle. Each song includes a choreographed dance that you may learn in class and then practise at home. Perhaps you’d like to test out some new dance moves in a club. Test your memory by memorising each routine and quizzing yourself for added neurological benefits.
- Pound: If you like rock and roll to hip hop or country, you’ll love Pound. You’ll air drum your way to toned arms — and a sharper mind — with light-weighted sticks. This is your workout if you have a strong sense of rhythm and enjoy playing games like Band Hero.
- Get a little dramatic with LaBlast: Have you ever wanted to dance on Broadway? Even if you stopped wearing tap shoes when you were ten, you may relive the magic with this enjoyable type of exercise. From disco to ballroom swing, you’ll have a great time. This class follows a logical flow, so if you can count, you’ll be OK.
- Barre will tone your entire body: Do you long for the days of pink tutus and ballet slippers? Who says you have to stop taking barre courses once you reach the age of 18? There are studios in almost every town, as well as classes for people of various ages. If you’re more concerned with fitness than technique, look for classes that focus on aerobic and toning exercises.
- Get romantic with ballroom swing: Perhaps you’ve lost your spouse, or you long for the romance of dancing face to cheek. Even if you’re alone, enrol in a ballroom swing class. Many studios will put you in contact with a variety of partners. Of course, if you have a significant other, you should bring them along!
Don’t underestimate the significance of putting on your favourite music and dancing around your living room once you’ve mastered it. You may stream free dance fitness videos in the quiet of your own home if you have a computer or a smart TV. If you’re shy about dancing in front of others, these are a great method to reap the benefits.
Don’t let a disability prevent you from reaping the physiological and cognitive benefits of dance. Today, there is an entire theatre dedicated to showcasing the abilities of persons with disabilities . Even if you have no desire to act on stage, you can refuse to let mental obstacles prevent you from having fun.
It makes no difference how old you are; dancing is good for your brain. This easy exercise has been shown in studies to improve your focus and coordination. It’s also a great way to have a good time. Increase the volume and boogie the next time you need a mental boost.