I want to receive new articles by email
Dancing can reverse ageing
By Michelle Robertson
According to a new study, getting your groove on may keep your brain younger. Previous studies have shown that older people who routinely do physical exercise can turn back the signs of aging in their brains. This new research hints that dancing might be the most powerful form of exercise for making this happen. A series of volunteers with the average age of 68 were given different exercise routines. While the traditional fitness program included mainly repetitive exercises such as cycling or Nordic walking, the dance group were challenged with something new each week. It was these extra challenges which were thought to be the reason for the increased improvement displayed by those in the dancing group.
Dr Kathrin Rehfeld of the German centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Magdeburg was the lead author of the study. She explained the procedure: "We tried to provide our seniors in the dance group with constantly changing dance routines of different genres (jazz, square dance, Latin American and line dance). Steps, arm-patterns, formations, speed and rhythms were changed every second week to keep them in a constant learning process. The most challenging aspect for them was to recall the routines under the pressure of time and without any cues from the instructor."
Building on these results, Kathrin and her colleagues are now testing new fitness programs that have the potential of maximizing anti-aging effects on the brain. "Right now, we are evaluating a new system called "Jymmin" (jamming and gymnastic). This is a sensory-based system which generates sounds (melodies and rhythm) based on physical activity. We know that dementia patients react strongly when listening to music. We want to combine the promising aspects of physical activity with active music-making in a feasibility study with dementia patients."