Dancing has always been an exciting pastime for Australians. It can bring people together in a fun and energetic way, and has for hundreds of years.
But while it can keep us active, researchers from the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases believe that dancing could be used as a form of dementia therapy to combat the disease.
A Study of Dance
The conclusion comes after researchers from the centre conducted a study to look at the effects of dancing on the brain compared to other forms of physical activity.
Two groups of people with an average age of 68 were asked to participate in the study over a course of 18 weeks. The first group was given weekly dance lessons to complete, while the other was asked to participate in endurance training.
Researchers concluded that while both can have a positive impact on the brain, only the people in the dance group were said to have received a “significant positive impact” in relation to combating age-related brain decline, which in turn can lead to dementia.
Dance Comes Out on Top
“Exercise has the beneficial effect of slowing down or even counteracting age-related decline in mental and physical capacity,” said lead author of the study, Dr Kathrin Rehfeld.
“In this study, we show that two different types of physical exercise – dancing and endurance training – both increase the area of the brain that declines with age.
“In comparison, it was only dancing that lead to noticeable behavioural changes in terms of improved balance.”
Dr Rehfield explained that the likely reason for the greater change in those in the dance group is due to dance involving constant change.
“We tried to provide our seniors in the dance group with constantly changing dance routines of different genres – Jazz, Square, Latin-American and Line Dance,” she said.
“Steps, arm-patterns, formations, speed and rhythms were changed every second week to keep them in a constant learning process.”
Exercise and The Brain
Dance, like most other forms of exercise, involves the use of the part of the brain known as the hippocampus region.
This area of the brain is of particular interest to researchers, and of particular importance to the ageing population, as it is the area of the brain that controls one’s short-term and long-term memory.
For people with dementia, it is one of the first areas of the brain that becomes damaged and starts to decline, which is why researchers like Dr Rehfeld are so interested in looking at potential forms of dementia therapy that involve this area of the brain.
While additional studies will need to be conducted to provide further evidence that dance can be an effective form of dementia therapy, it seems incorporating dance into your life will certainly do you some good.
Here at Home Caring in Bondi Junction, dementia therapy is important to us. That’s why we offer a number of different therapies to suit a variety of needs. Get in contact with us today to find out more.