It turns out that dancing is not just fun, but it’s also good for your brain. Great news, right? We’ve always known dancing is a great way for your body to stay in shape – but research has also confirmed it’s a great way for your mind to stay in shape as well. Dancing is yet another way to improve brain health as we age.
On one hand, people who dance regularly have greater cognitive reserves and an increased complexity of neuronal synapses, explained neurologist Dr. Robert Katzman. Dancing lowered the risk of dementia by improving these neural qualities. Dancing may cause the brain to continually rewire its neural pathways and by doing so help with neuroplasticity.
To put it simply, the essence of intelligence is making decisions. To improve your mental acuity, it is best to involve yourself in an activity that demands split-second, rapid decision making.
Dancing is an example of a fast-paced activity that demands speedy decision making. It requires instant responses to questions like Which way to turn? What speed to move your body? and How to react to your partner’s movements? Dancing is an excellent way to maintain and enhance your intelligence.
Recent research4 by Joe Verghese, professor of neurology and medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and director of the Montefiore Einstein Center for the Aging Brain, also showed the benefits of dance on an individual’s memory and general cognition.
Because dance requires mental, physical, emotional and social skills, all of these functions working together can be beneficial to your brain and overall health. Dance is a multi-tasking activity which can improve cognitive function and slow the aging process.
The social aspect of dancing should not be underestimated either. Dancing involves other people and can reduce feelings of isolation and social stress, which can contribute to the risk of cognitive decline.
Dancing often involves music which we know can also be soothing and/or motivating and can provide an emotional mood boost. Maybe music inspires you to shake, rattle and roll (or at least tap your feet!); maybe it connects you to a joyous time in your past.