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Dance Your Way Into A Healthy Body And Mind

August 03, 2017 Nicole Lyons

Have you ever heard of popular dance programs like Jazzercise or Zumba? These types of programs focus on exercising to music with choreographed, repetitive steps. If you've never laced up your sneakers and hopped in (and men are welcome, too), you're missing out on a great way to see how coordinated you are in front of a bunch of strangers.

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Dancing is good for you

While hopping around to blasting pop music may not be your thing, dancing is good for you. One recent study investigated the effect that dance experience has on cognitive performance and cortical gray matter thickness in older patients.

The scientists found that even with a thinner cortex, patients identified as dancers performed better in tasks involving memory and learning. Initial results look promising, and activities like dancing may help delay or even avert mild cognitive impairment that occurs as we age (Porat, 2016).

So you say you can't dance?

When you think of dancing, you might conjure up images of elegant, swan-like ballerinas, or Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Even the wild kids of Footloose could shake it. Maybe you think you simply don't have the skill to dance.

It's true; you probably can't dance like Tina Turner in her high heels. But, you can still let your body move to your favorite music. It doesn't matter what kind of music you like because you can dance to virtually anything.

Dancing is an art form. But you can still express yourself, even with no experience. If you're too shy (or think you're too uncoordinated), then try dancing at home alone. Put on some headphones and shake your tailfeathers.

Let your body express the pent-up emotions you have inside. Try to clear your mind and focus on all the parts of your body that are moving.

When a body moves, it's the most revealing thing. Dance for me a minute, and I'll tell you who you are.

Mikhail Baryshnikov

Exercises like dancing can help integrate your brain, send blood flow to the pre-frontal cortex improving short-term memory and attention levels.

These benefits alongside the feelings of well being that dancing offers will help you enhance your performance in leadership.

If you have the opportunity, try out a dance class!

Classes of all types are available for adults. No matter your age, you can still learn to salsa, belly dance or line dance. Many community centres and institutes of higher education offer low-cost or even free classes. You may not look like Ginger Rogers, but you can still have the benefits of a healthier mind and body.

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Citations
Porat, S., Goukasian, N., Hwang, K. S., Zanto, T., Do, T., Pierce, J., … Apostolova, L. G. (2016). Dance Experience and Associations with Cortical Gray Matter Thickness in the Aging Population. Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders EXTRA, 6(3), 508–517. http://doi.org/10.1159/000449130 

Nicole Lyons

Nicole Lyons

Nicole is the About my Brain Institute's researcher and blogger. As a writer and science educator she is passionate about sharing scientific knowledge to refute ignorance and misconceptions. Nicole is also a devoted wife and mother to two children, two cats, a dog and frog.

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