According to 100-year-old Marlys Mueller, kicking up your heels, or specifically in her case, square dancing, is one of the keys to healthy longevity. According to the studies, she’s right.
Everyone knows that dancing of any kind burns calories. Most people think dancing – whether it’s ballroom, salsa, or even Zumba – is fun. But not everyone knows that dancing helps bolster your brain health and sharpen your memory as you age. In fact, you can reap the benefits of dancing well into advanced age. According to a study conducted by Rutgers University and published in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, dancers have a different brain activity than people with a sedentary lifestyle. Scientists described it as “a more youthful brain.”
The study revealed that dancers who participated in two hour-long aerobic dance classes every week for 20 weeks “performed better than before on a test of their ability to learn and retain information and apply it logically in new situations” according to Mark Gluck, Ph.D., a professor and the lab director at the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers. “This kind of agile thinking involves the medial temporal lobe, and tends to decline with age. But the older exercisers scored higher than at the start, and those whose brains displayed the most new interconnections now outperformed the rest.”
Rutgers isn’t the first to study the benefits of exercise on an aging brain. In fact, Albert Einstein College of Medicine reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that dancing was the only physical activity to offer protection against dementia. If you need proof, read Marlys story here. Or you could just go get your dancing shoes.