Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dancing makes you smarter

Quick, give me a really hard question! I just got back from a three day swing dance weekend. Swing Dance is a partner dance which requires a leader and a follower. A study just came out recently which shows that partner dancing makes you smarter.

The study says that the split second decisions that the leaders and followers have to make in a dance create new pathways in your brain which will make you smarter now and prevent Alzheimer’s.
They compared several activities and how each reduced risk of dementia. They were looking at folks who performed these activities four or more times a week. The earlier you started the better.

Here are their findings:
            Reading - 35% reduced risk of dementia

            Bicycling and swimming - 0%

            Doing crossword puzzles at least four days a week - 47%

            Playing golf - 0%

            Dancing frequently - 76%.

Another great benefit from dancing is it makes you happy. I got back from the weekend dance on Monday evening and I still feel the happy. Being happy reduces stress and makes you healthier overall.

The benefits only occur in specific conditions:
  1. Partner dancing meaning not booty dancing but ballroom, swing, latin etc...
  2. For follows, dance with lots of different leads. If you only dance with one person you’ll get used to them and stop building pathways.
  3. For leads, dance with lots of different follows, try out new things, and avoid ruts

I'd like to add martial arts to this list up there with Dancing because sparing with someone must require the same split second decision making, but it’s probably difficult to get folks over 65 to take martial arts.

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