As we age, we become prone to the constant downfall in our physical and mental health. The journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience published a paper which suggests that exercising on a regular basis and taking part in similar activities can help reduce and reverse the signs of aging. Interestingly, it has been shown that dancing has the most effect of all these activities.
Dr. Kathrin Rehfeld of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, also the writer of the study notes,“Exercise has the beneficial effect of slowing down or even counteracting age-related decline in mental and physical capacity.”
“In this study, we show two different types of physical exercise (dancing and endurance training) both increase the area of the brain that declines with age. In comparison, it was only dancing that lead to noticeable behavioral changes in terms of improved balance,” she adds.
Some elderly individuals, within the age of 60-70, took part in this study and received either a weekly course of learning dance routines for 18 months or physical exercise involving endurance training and flexibility.
The hippocampus situated in the brain which is often influenced by old age and disease which come with age, showed a notable increase. The hippocampus is also important for keeping balance, learning, and maintaining memory.
Previous research suggests that exercise is capable of counterpoising health issues that come with age, while it has not been clear as to which form of physical effort has better effect. This study was used to judge this and is the reason why various exercises were given to the participants.
The group that was given dance routines was given something new each week, but the group with the physical activity stuck to one type which involved jogging, walking, and similar exercises.
Dr. Rehfeld says, “We tried to provide our seniors in the dance group with constantly changing dance routines of different genres (Jazz, Square, Latin- American and Line Dance). Steps, arm patterns, formations, speed, and rhythms were changed every second week to keep them in a constant learning process. The most challenging aspect for them was to recall the routines under pressure of time and without any cues from the instructor.”
The challenges which come with higher level of difficulty have been considered to be the reason for the different in growth between the two groups. Currently, Dr. Rehfeld and her colleagues are working on this info in order to determine which exercise programs would be the most effective.
Dr. Rehfeld says further that, “Right now, we are evaluating a new system called “Jymmin” (jamming and gymnastic). This is a sensor based system that generates sounds (melodies, rhythm) based on physical activity. We know that dementia patients react strongly when listening to music. We want to combine the promising aspects of physical activity and active music making a feasibility study with dementia patients.”
This is why Dr. Rehfeld advises everyone to keep moving to their favorite rhythms and reap the benefits of dancing.