People often take dance lessons as adults because the activity appeals to their desire for both creativity and physical activity. But dance is far more than a pleasant pastime or artful way to exercise. For older people who regularly dance, the benefits to the brain, body, and spirit are phenomenal.
When you dance, you help your body stay strong and resilient. Recent studies reveal a connection between dancing and a reduction in age-related conditions including dementia and high cholesterol levels.
Here are four great reasons to get dancing.
1. Dementia Has Been Reduced by 76% in Older Dancers
As found in a 21-year study of senior citizens conducted by Albert Einstein College of Medicine, there has been a significant reduction in the risk of age-related dementia in older people who regularly danced. Researchers studied the effects on dementia when seniors did activities that included crossword puzzles, playing instruments, and walking.
Regular swimming and cycling didn't lower dementia risk one bit, and doing crossword puzzles four times a week only reduced the risk of dementia by 47%. But seniors who regularly danced had a 76% reduction in their risk of developing dementia. That's a stunning testament to the power of dance.
2. Dancing Makes Your Brain Grow
In a study of ballerinas who repeatedly practiced spinning in circles, researchers found that the cerebellum in these dancers increased in size. Another benefit of spinning practice and increased cerebellum growth was a reduction in dizziness. It's likely that seniors who regularly take to the dance floor also decrease their sensations of dizziness through routine dancing.
Gray matter and neural connections also increase in the brain after any physical activity. This is due to the brain's ability to rejuvenate itself-called neuroplasticity. When you dance, you activate connections in the brain that create fresh pathways. The music, rhythm and movements in dance are responsible for these positive changes.
3. Dancing Protects the Heart
In the United Kingdom, people who engaged in moderate intensity dancing were found to be less likely to die of cardiovascular disease than people who didn't dance. The study included a total of 48,000 adults who were 40 and older with no heart disease. Those who danced-only around 3,000 of the total group-had lower body mass indexes, were less sick, and engaged in more physical activity overall.
The heart-healthy benefits of dancing were seen even after other causes were accounted for, including age, alcohol use, smoking, and chronic illness. It's important to note that moderate dancing, which is defined as 150 minutes a week of activity, is recommended to achieve these benefits. Take a few dance classes each week or combine moderate dancing with brisk walking and other moderately strenuous tasks to cut your risk of a heart attack and other heart-related diseases.
4. Dance Classes Provide Human Connection
In group classes, dancers of all ages meet and socialize with people who become dear friends and performing buddies. Learning choreographed moves together builds strong bonds, while pre- and post-class chats and meals provide social outlets for people who live alone or desire more human connections.
However, beginning or returning dancers who shun group activities also benefit from private dance classes. One-on-one dance lessons allow introverted people to express themselves creatively while receiving dedicated guidance from their dance instructors. Once their skills improve, some individual students feel confident enough to join group classes. Other one-on-one students enjoy the serenity of their time in the studio and continue to learn on their own.
It's clear from the research that dancing on a regular basis is one key to a long and healthy life. The only question now is: what kind of dance moves do you want to learn? Sign up for your favorite lessons from ballet to hip-hop at Crescendo Dance Academy, where we have a full schedule of classes to help you achieve better health and happiness.