If you’re one who likes to bust a move, you are getting some great cognitive benefits in addition to the physical exercise and mood-boosting advantages. Several studies have shown how dancing is good for your brain and we’re breaking down the reasons why today.
Dancing Improves Intelligence
Freestyle dancing is a great brain workout because you have to make a lot of quick decisions. As you decide which ways to move your body – from your head and arms, to your hips and legs – and keeping up with changing rhythm and tempo, your brain is working fast. This series of quick decisions improves intelligence because it is actually the very definition of intelligence: automatic responses to stimulus. It’s known as mental acuity and dancing helps sharpen this essential brain skill.
Dancing Improves Neuroplasticity
Another way dancing supports mental acuity is by maintaining your brain’s white matter responsible for cognition that usually deteriorates with age. A study found that, more than any other physical or mental activity tested including walking, cycling, reading and crossword puzzles, dancing helped reduce dementia by 76%. This study specifically focused on social dances that required physical activity, remembering steps, and having social interaction with a partner. The researchers believe it is the combination of physical, mental and social elements that led to such a vast improvement in white matter.
Dancing Improves Memory
Age causes neural pathways to weaken as brain cells die, however learning new things like dancing helps build new pathways. The more neural synapses in the brain, the sharper a person is. Therefore, building new channels even as some die off can help improve memory by offering alternative means to retrieve stored information.
Now that you know how dancing is good for your brain it’s time to make some space for it in your life. Here are some ideas for incorporating dance into your days:
- Take a dance class – any type of dance will do including ballroom, hip-hop, ballet, tap or zumba.
- Participate in aerobic exercise that incorporates dance moves.
- Grab your partner or best gal pals and head to a dance club.
- Make dancing a stay-at-home date night activity with your husband.
- Have spontaneous dance parties with your kids when everyone needs a brain-boosting break.
- Dance in the mirror in the mornings as you’re getting ready.
Dancing is good for your brain so dance your way into more intelligence, better memory and a longer life!
Sources: Bustle, I Heart Intelligence and LifeHack