Hippocampus is the part of the brain that controls our memory, balance and learning. Physical exercise has an anti-aging effect on this part of our brain. Comparing the different forms of exercise like dancing and endurance training, a new study on elderly volunteers for 18 months shows that both of them have anti-aging effect on brain. But a noticeable difference in behavior was only due to dancing. The difference in behavior may be due to the extra challenges of learning the dancing routines.
There is a decline in our physical and mental fitness as we grow older. This may become worse due to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. A new study was published in the open access journal “Frontiers in Human Neuroscience”. According to this study, older people who routinely did physical exercise can reverse the aging signs in the brain and that dancing has the most profound effect.
Dance your way through life
Elderly volunteers with an average age of about 68 took part in the study. For 18 months, they either took weekly course of learning dance or endurance training. In both the groups, there was an increase in the hippocampus part of the brain. This part of brain is important as it can decline with age and also affected by Alzheimer’s. It plays an important role in learning and memory along with keeping balance.
From previous studies, we know that physical exercise has an anti-aging effect on brain. But we didn’t know which type of exercise is better than the other. In order to assess this, different exercise routines were given to the elderly volunteers. As part of traditional fitness program, the elderly participants did repetitive exercises like Nordic walking or cycling. While for the dance group, there were new challenges each week.
The dance group volunteers were taught new steps, formations and arm patterns every second week. Also the speed and rhythm was changed. This was done in order to keep them in a process of constant learning. For these dance group volunteers, the most challenging aspect was to recall the routines under time constraints and without any help from the instructor. In the dance group, the noticeable difference in balance is due to the extra challenges they had to face in learning dance.
Dancing to your favorite beat has anti-aging effect on Brain
Everybody should lead an healthy and independent life as long as possible. One of the lifestyle factors that can contribute to this is physical activity. It helps counteract several risk factors and also helps in slowing down decline due to age. One of the powerful tools that can set new challenges for mind and body is definitely dancing more so in older age.