Published on October 4th, 2012 | by Key Reads0
Link Between Dancing and Memory Retention
Is there a link between dancing and memory? For years the loss of memory and dementia were considered a natural part of the aging process. New studies show, however, that memory loss does not necessarily need to be a natural part of aging. In fact, mentally challenging pastimes and leisure activities may be the key to staving off, and even preventing memory loss as we age. Playing an instrument, reading, and playing games that involve strategy were all shown to help improve memory and mental functions in a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. No activity, however, showed as many positive effects on memory and mental health than dancing. The 21-year longitudinal study measured the memory retention and mental acuity of participants 75 years of age and older. It also measured the rates of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Across the board, dancing preserved, and in fact, even improved the participant’s mental facilities more than any other pastime or hobby. So, what is the link between dancing and memory?
First of all, dancing is fantastic exercise. A healthy adult can burn as much as 150 calories in only 30 minutes of dancing. Studies show that any form of regular exercise can help improve not only your physical health, but your mental health as well. But that dancing is a fun way to get your exercise isn’t the only link between dancing and memory.
Dancing also requires the ability to make tiny motor movement, listen to and interpret musical cues and timing, as well as understanding and interpreting the cues given by one’s partner. All of this combines to give your brain a rigorous mental workout. Dancing requires the brain to keep neural pathways open, or if they have already closed, rewire itself and make new ones. Learning new dance steps, reading your partner’s intentions, and reacting properly to both your partner and the music require excellent mental acuity.
The link between dancing and memory is not just found in the elderly either. Dancing improves memory and mental functions in people from all ages. Children have shown just as much benefit from dancing, as adults when it comes to dancing and memory. Dancing has even been used to help treat patients with mental disorders, as well as trauma victims. The strong link between dancing and memory, as well as dancing and mental health mean that we will probably be seeing a rise in people dancing for their health in the future. Check out your local civic center to see if they offer any dance classes, your brain will thank you.