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Study: Dancing Might Help Battle Brain Aging

Dorathy Gass

Good news for those who love to boogie. New research is indicating that getting active late in life, more specifically dancing, can assist when it comes to battling brain aging and reverse the signs of it.

Medical News Today reported that as people get older, a variety of changes occur in the brain. This includes a reduction of brain tissue, decreased blood flow, as well as reduced communication within brain cells.

Past research has indicated that physical activity engaged in late life can assist with decreased declining cognitive. Still, what kinds of exercise can help most when it comes to fighting the battle against an aging brain? A study team lead by Dr. Kathrin Rehfeld dove into finding the answer around this.

The team engaged a little over 50 healthy individuals between the ages of 63 and 80 years old. Each person was randomly placed into an exercise group, two in total, for 18 months.
The first group was assigned a dance lesson weekly, 90 minutes in total, and the other had weekly strength-endurance training for 90 minutes. The team did note that there was varied physical activity for each group: the dance group embarked on new routines each week, while the strength-endurance training people partook in the same regimen during their 18-month sessions.
After the 18-month exercise sessions, each individual participated in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). As well, individuals were assessed for balance via a Sensory Organization Test both before and after the group exercise sessions.

While the study team found that each group showed an enhancement when it came to their hippocampal volume, the dance group participants demonstrated a higher increase.

The hippocampus is located in the brain and is linked to memory, learning, and emotions. It also happens to be the area typically affected by brain changes that are age related. It’s important to note, the dancing group solely revealed enhancements via neuronal connections within their hippocampus’ dentate gyrus; a region linked to the formation of memories.

The research team also saw tremendous improvements when it came to balance within the dance group participants, while the other group showed no signs of this.

The study team did speculate that perhaps the continued learning process that took place within the dance group, and the need to learn different routines weekly, might have something to do with the added benefits the participants experienced. They also did note that the link between fitness training, dancing, and aging of the brain requires addition research, within larger studies. They also went on to state that future research is needed in particular around dancing and the potential for it to delay or prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

In the meantime, the team encourages older adults to put on their favorite music, get their dancing shoes on, and cut up a rug. It clearly does a body (and brain) good.

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