Learn to Dance!

Fun * Healthy * Social

Dancing May Be Good for Your Health

Most of us acknowledge that regular physical activity in general can help keep our bodies healthy as we age. Dancing can be a great mind-body workout. Dancing can help:

Dancing that requires you to remember dance steps and sequences boosts brain power by improving memory skills. A 21 year study published in the June 19, 2003, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine found that ballroom dancing at least twice a week made people less likely to develop dementia. Ballroom dancing was the only physical activity in the study that appeared to be associated with a reduced risk of developing dementia. Research also has shown that some people with Alzheimer's disease are able to recall forgotten memories when they dance to music they used to know.

A preliminary study, performed at Washington University in St. Louis and reported in the December 2007 issue of the Journal of Neurological Physical Therapy, indicates that Tango lessons may help those who suffer from Parkinson's disease. Nineteen subjects were randomly assigned to either a Tango group or an exercise class for 20 weeks. Both groups demonstrated improvement overall. The Tango group showed improvement in balance while the exercise group did not. Research is also being done at the University of Calgary to investigate why music and dance can lift some patients out of an immobile or frozen state and allow them temporary escape from the crippling effects of the disease.

Dancing is a unique form of exercise because it provides the healthy benefits of aerobic exercise while also allowing you to engage in a social activity. The physical aspect of dancing increases blood flow to the brain. The social aspect of the activity leads to less stress, depression, and loneliness. Dancing requires memorizing steps and working with a partner, both of which provide mental challenges that are crucial for brain health. Dancing may help you to be both intellectually stimulated and physically active.