Home Health Group dancing protects against dementia more than walking – Lifestyles

Group dancing protects against dementia more than walking – Lifestyles

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Group dancing protects against dementia more than walking – Lifestyles


Not all types of exercise are created equal when it comes to brain health. Ballroom dancing, as an aerobic but also a social activity, can improve cognitive functions and reduce brain atrophy in older adults who have a higher risk of dementia. This is the discovery of a study published in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity and conducted by researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, in the United States.

Previous research has suggested that dance has beneficial effects on cognitive function in older adults, but only a few studies have directly compared it to other types of physical activity. In the new study, 25 people over 65 were enrolled and were randomly assigned to receive, for a duration of 6 months, ballroom dancing lessons twice a week or walking on a treadmill twice a week. Both groups improved attention, reasoning and planning skills. Dancing, however, generated much greater improvements in executive function and processing speed—the time it takes to respond or process information. Compared to walking, ballroom dancing was also associated with reduced atrophy in the hippocampus, a region of the brain that is key to memory functioning and is most affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

“These advantages – the authors specify – are due to the fact that dance, in addition to being physically demanding, like walking, is also socially and cognitively demanding”.

In fact, it strengthens “a large network of brain regions”, which are activated to “interact and adapt to the movements of the dance partner, learn new dance steps or remember those that have already been learned”. Group dances, therefore, “are a non-invasive and cost-effective route to ward off dementia” however “larger studies are needed to confirm these findings and to determine optimal duration and frequency.”

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