Is it too good to be true? Could dancing really be the best thing you can do for your brain health? It turns out, yes. The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in 2003 that looked at the effects of recreational activities on mental acuity in aging. Frequently doing crossword puzzles gave some hefty protection with a 46% reduced risk of dementia, and reading closely followed with a 35% reduced risk. Surprisingly, physical activities like swimming or biking offered no risk reduction, but frequent dancing was associated with a 76% reduced risk of dementia. The study showed that dancing improves memory and is better for the brain than any of the other activities!
But why? First, dancing involves creative thinking, making quick decisions, and it involves using different neural pathways at the same time – all things that are beneficial for the brain. It’s also good exercise, and it’s hard to dance without feeling joy – a powerful brain booster.
Here are some ways you can take advantage of the benefits of dancing:
1. Take a class! Check your local area for ballroom, tap, or even hip-hop classes. Even if you have two left feet!
2. Already know how to dance? Go out on the town with your friends or spouse and dance the night away.
3. Feeling a little shy? Dance like no one’s watching because no one will be watching from the comfort of your own home. Dancing is a great thing to combine with housework like vacuuming and laundry – just crank up your favorite music and dance your way through chores.