Studies Show Dancing Can Slow Effects Alzheimer’s

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November was Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, but the four weeks passed by pretty quietly. Research for Alzheimer’s is still arguably underfunded considering that someone in the United States develops it every 67 seconds, and it is the 6th leading cause of death in this country. But we are still managing to learn ways to fight off the disease. One recent study has actually shown that dancing is a significant help in lowering one’s risk of Alzheimer’s.

Tactics for Fighting Alzheimer’s

There are a few tactics to delay the mental and physical deterioration we experience as we get older. One tactic is to exercise your mind and the other is to exercise your body. Exercise helps keep your entire body active which helps your overall health, but it also helps the brain specifically. Studies have shown that keeping active not only improves your memory, but can slow down mental deterioration. To help your brain, the key is to grow new pathways which can form with new experiences. Even taking up a new hobby just once a decade can make a huge difference in keeping your brain active and well. Learning is extremely effective at stimulating your brain and helping it continue to grow, so don’t just depend on your daily Sudoku to do the trick.

There is also a third tactic can also be utilized: socializing. Isolation only makes your health suffer. Human beings were designed to be group creatures, so we need to be able to reach out to others and communicate for our own good. Socialization also plays a key part in stimulating the brain. That’s one of the perks of a retirement community. But if you’re living on your own, you have to make more of an effort to reach out and connect with the world.

Applying Those Tactics to Dance

No matter what age you are, dancing will improve upon you mental acuity. Dancing combines all of the above tactics to help put off the aging process. If you sign up for a dance class, you are helping yourself physically by exercising on a regular basis. Dancing keeps your body moving for straight minutes at a time – it may not be the same as running a mile, but the exercise doesn’t have to be that strenuous to be effective. You may even break a sweat while ballroom dancing! Mentally, you’ll be learning new moves and choreography that you’ll have to remember and you will be doing so along to music, which also helps create new pathways in the mind by triggering past memories and emotions. And a dance class is the perfect place to socialize. So, if you’re taking a dance class make sure you take the time to introduce yourself to your classmates and talk to the instructor if you have any questions. Making friends isn’t just fun, it’s good for you.

These tactics aren’t just an idea, they’re really working. The Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City led a 21-year study to monitor the cognitive acuity of a group of seniors. The study oversaw the seniors take part in various activities, both leisurely and physical, to see how it would affect their minds and rates of dementia. While doing the crossword four times a week reduced the participant’s risk of Alzheimer’s by 47%, bicycling and swimming did not help at all. But dancing frequently had the biggest impact by reducing one’s odds by 76%. The specific type of dancing that these senior partook in was ballroom dancing, but any form should do. No matter your age or risk, taking a dance class is clearly a smart move to keep yourself healthy and sharp.