At some point in life, every one of us develops a negative relationship with the mirror on the wall. It just keeps showing us too many lines, Also many gray hairs and sagging stuff everywhere on our body.
Many of us end up refusing to face the mirror for different reasons.
But, we don’t have to resort to such drastic measures. There is also something simple and enjoyable we can do to slow down the clock.
As we are growing older, we usually suffer a decline in mental and physical fitness. This can become worse by conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Also, we are continuously reminded of the various health benefits we can get with physical activity.
A recent study published in the open-success journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience shows that older adults with physical exercise regularly can reverse the signs of aging in their brain. Dancing as a form of exercise is the most efficient.
Why is dancing one of the most effective exercises for the brain?
Dr. Kathrin Rehfeld, the lead author of the study, says:
Exercise has the beneficial impact of slowing down or even counteracting an age-related decline in mental, and physical capacity. In the study, we show that two different types of exercise, such as dancing can both increase the area of our brain which declines with our age. In comparison, only dancing was the one that leads to some noticeable behavioral changes, concerning improved balance.
This difference is attributed to the extra challenge of learning some dancing routines.
The researchers working on the study have invited 62 healthy seniors (volunteers), aged between 63 and 80 years, to join the research. They chose 52 who met their inclusion criteria. They were randomly assigned to the experimental dance group.
The program included: endurance training, strength-endurance training, as well as flexibility training.
Both groups have shown an increase in the hippocampus region of the brain.
This is the area of the brain which is especially prone to age-related decline. It also has a huge role in memory and learning, as well as keeping the balance in a person. But only those participating in the dance group showed volume increases in different subfields of the left hippocampus. Just dancing led to a rise in one subfield in the right hippocampus, namely known as the subiculum.
This study has shown that dancing, especially continuously changing dance routine, as well as choreography, is superior to repetitive exercises, such as cycling or walking.
Dr. Rehfeld explains:
We have tried to provide the seniors in the group with some constantly changing dance routines of some different types of music (jazz, square, Latin-American and line dance). On every second week, steps, arm-patterns, formations, speed, and rhythms were changed, to keep them in a constant learning process. And, the most challenging aspect was to recall the routines under the pressure of time.
Dr. Rehfeld, together with her colleagues, are still building on this research. They are developing new fitness programs, which can have the maximum anti-aging effects on the brain.
Dancing for the rhythmically challenged.
And what about the people who have two left feet and do not have any sense of rhythm?
Instead of focusing on how awkward we may look when we dance, we just need to lose ourselves in the music. The music itself has a lot of therapeutic benefits. Just listening to it can lift our spirits. Only if we manage to raise the backsides, it will be much better.
Dr. Rehfeld gives the following advice:
I believe that every person wants to live an independent and healthy life, for as long as possible. One of the lifestyle factors which can contribute to this is physical activity. I also think that dancing is another powerful tool which sets challenges for our body and mind, especially in older age.