Benefits of dance for older people?
Our mental and physical abilities inevitably deteriorate with age. How to deal with this phenomenon? Researchers have found that brain aging slows down exercise, especially dancing. Photo: Depositphotos Decrease in mental and physical performance seriously impairs the quality of life of the elderly and the elderly. In the worst case, at first subtle troubles over the years bring more suffering and can develop into Alzheimer’s disease. Science cannot yet offer a panacea that can restore youth. However, many studies have come to a clear conclusion: regular exercise slows down negative processes, affecting the hippocampus — the area of the brain that controls memory, learning, balance and spatial orientation. Researchers from the German Center for neurodegenerative diseases in Magdeburg compared the effectiveness of the impact on the brain of two types of physical activity — endurance training and dance. It turned out that older people are able to reduce the signs of aging, doing both, but dancing is more effective. As the lead author of the study Dr. Catherine Rehfeld (Kathrin Rehfeld) said: Exercises cause a favorable effect of slowing down or even counteracting the age-related decrease in mental and physical potential. In this study, we showed that two different types of exercise — dancing and endurance training — increase the area of the brain that decreases with age. In comparison — only dancing led to noticeable behavioral changes in terms of improving balance. To participate in the experiment, the researchers invited volunteers whose average age was 68 years. With one group every week for 18 months conducted training dance classes, on the other — training for endurance and flexibility. The presence of physical activity-related and problem-solving activates the brain Photo: Depositphotos All volunteers at the end of training and noted an increase in the hippocampus. This is important because it is this area of the brain that is key to memory, orientation, and learning that suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and is prone to age-related degradation. But why one type of physical activity was more effective than another? Why is the impact of dancing more noticeable? Researchers attribute the differences to the variety of tasks that the brain solves during training. If the participants who trained endurance, performed repetitive exercises such as walking and Cycling, the dancers in each class mastered something new. As Dr. Rehfeld explained, In the dance group we tried to present to our seniors constantly changing dance programs of different genres. Steps, hand combinations, shapes, speed and rhythms were changed every second week to maintain a continuous learning process. The most difficult thing for the participants was to remember forgotten over time dance schemes without prompting the instructor. According to scientists, it is the presence of physical activity-related and requiring solutions to problems activates the brain. The best source turned out to be dancing.