A recent study demonstrated the connection between dance and the brain – showing preventative activities could enhance the function of your memory. To practice preventative health, you can do more than keeping up with medical tests and treatments recommended by your doctor. In fact, taking preventative health actions can be a regular waltz in the park.
A few years back, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study that aimed to find a connection between participation in leisure activities and the risk of dementia. Eleven physical activities including dance and six cognitive tasks like reading and writing were observed in the study.
Throughout the 21-year study, participants were asked which activities they were participating in and how frequently. According to the study, dancing was the only physical activity that showed a correlation with lower dementia risk. Cognitive activities associated with low dementia risk were reading, playing board games and practicing musical instruments. It was determined that the preventative effects were dependent on how often the subjects engaged in activities.
A more recent study conducted at the University of Maryland School of Public Health demonstrated the link between exercise and memory-based brain activity. According to lead researcher Dr. J. Carson Smith, this was the first study to show improved brain function using dance to improve memory recall. They defined moderate exercise as activity that causes increased heart rate and perspiration yet doesn’t prevent conversation.
“No study has shown that a drug can do what we showed is possible with exercise,” said Dr. Smith.
The UMD study used brain scans taken before and after the 12-week exercise program to analyze participants. The scans illustrated less intense brain activation during recall memory tests following an extended and regular blood-pumping regimen.
However, exercise doesn’t have to be done with a personal trainer or free weights to be beneficial. It’s possible to reach that level of moderate activity by wiggling your hips, shaking your shoulders or doing a little twist and shout. Give it a try and start dancing for a stronger brain.