Reverse Aging? Take Your Brain Dancing!

In Aging, Alzheimer's, Brain Circuitry, Brain Disorders, Brain General Structure and Function, Brain Science, Exercise by Brainy Days Ahead

To reverse our brain’s deterioration as we grow older is the holy grail of neuroscience. Now, a new study undertaken by scientists at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases finds that older people who routinely exercise can slow down or reverse aging in the brain’s hippocampus, the area most prone to age-related decline. Elderly volunteers with an average age of 68 were recruited to the study and assigned to one of two eighteen-month weekly courses. In one course they learned dance routines. In the other they engaged in a traditional fitness program of endurance and flexibility training. Both types of physical exercise were discovered to increased the size of the hippocampus in participants, but only dancing lead to a noticeable improvement in balance.  The traditional fitness training program conducted mainly repetitive exercises, such as cycling or Nordic walking, but the dance group was challenged with something new each week. Seniors in the dance group were faced with constantly changing dance routines of different genres including Jazz, Square, Latin-American and Line Dance. Steps, arm-patterns, formations, speed and rhythms were changed every second week to keep them in a constant learning process. Participants were expected to recall the routines under the pressure of time and without any cues from the instructor. These extra challenges , researchers believe, account for the noticeable difference in balance displayed by those participants in dancing group. So dance! And work hard at it, knowing that you are likely reversing your brain’s aging.