WALK, STRETCH, OR DANCE? DANCING MAY BE BEST FOR THE BRAIN

Do you listen to ABBA on your phone and just spontaneously choreograph a dance number? Do you listen to the latest tracks on the radio and find yourself unable to resist the music overpowering you to shake your hips? Do you love to show off your sick dance moves to other people? Do you love to dance? Well then do we have some good news for you.

There has been a recent study reported in the New York Times that says that it is possible that dancing can keep our minds sharp can protect our brains from aging.

As we get older our brains also change and slow down. This is often seen in people who are older than 40. Scientists believe that this is due to the fraying of the brain’s white matter. White matter is made up of specialized cells that pass messages from different parts of the brain to other parts.

The research conducted used country dancing and compared its neurological effects with other activities such as walking and running. If you hate going to the gym then worry no more perhaps dancing might be the thing for you.

The study was conducted by several schools including the University of Illinois and was published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

The study recruited 174 healthy people aged 60-70 who had no sign of any cognitive impairment. They then invited these people for lab tests for fitness, mental capacities, processing speed using a brain scan with a state-of-the-art MRI machine.

Then they invited the men and women to a university lab for tests of their aerobic fitness and mental capacities, including processing speed and a brain scan with a sophisticated M.R.I. machine. The scientists then divided these people into several groups and assigned them to do different activities. One group had to go walking three times a week. Another group had a regimen of stretching and training three times a week. The last group meanwhile was tasked to show up to a dance studio three times a week and learn to dance.

After a period of six months they were tested again to see whether there were any changes in the results. There were. Everyone’s brain seemed to show signs of degeneration of the white matter. However one group‘s white matter health showed actual improvement. Their white matter seemed denser than before mostly in the fornix, an area of the brain responsible for processing as well as memory.

So what does this mean? Dancing could actually improve your brain’s health! Now you don’t have to be shy about your dancing anymore. When you dance you know that it is actually good for your brain.

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