The secret to anti-ageing may not be complex, expensive or unattainable, like some rare youthful elixir. According to scientists, there’s one simple and accessible activity that can help reverse the signs of ageing in older people – it’s dancing.
To celebrate International Dance Day we dived into scientific research from Germany that showed regular exercise can help reverse the signs of ageing in the brain.
Evidence from a study split a group of senior volunteers, with an average age of 68, into two groups. Over 18 months one group did a weekly course learning dance routines, while the other did endurance and flexibility training.
Both the mental and physical self of older people improved across the study, which showed that dancing had the greatest effect of all activities.
Which area of the brain improved?
The hippocampus. This important brain zone is unfortunately prone to age-related decline. That includes diseases and forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s.
The hippocampus also relates to memory and learning, and even balance. Perhaps the secret to anti-ageing is keeping your hippocampus in check.
Plenty of studies have revealed that physical exercise is one the best ways to combat age-related decline but this is one of the first to show the type of exercise that worked best.
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What sort of dance routine?
Rather than do a repetitive activity, like walking five blocks, the dance volunteers were tasked with a new challenge each week.
While other studies have proven exercise helpful for anti ageing, Dr Kathrin Rehfeld, lead author of the study, said that dancing specifically showed “noticeable behavioural changes in terms of improved balance.”
The dancing group of volunteers were given changing dance routines with different rhythms, steps and moves. Once the instructor stepped away, the challenge was to remember the dance moves without cues and keep in time with the music.
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The power of dance
We can all agree that living a healthy and independent life as long as possible is a great goal, and an even better reason to boogie. Any physical activity will help counteract the signs of ageing, but dancing has been proven king.
“I think dancing is a powerful tool to set new challenges for body and mind, especially in older age,” said Dr Rehfeld.
Given the anti-ageing effects of dancing, will you add it to your weekly routine?
Uncover the world of dance on tour
Want some dance inspiration? There’s nothing like travel to spark wanderlust and new passions.
Witness the fiery passion and fast rhythms of flamenco in Spain, and see traditional Greek dancing on an olive farm. Experience lively and colourful traditional Pow Wow dancing in Canada, and tap your foot to jazz, country and rock ‘n’ roll in the southern states of America. Cruise along the Nile River while watching belly dancers in Egypt, and see the ‘dance’ of the Whirling Dervishes in Turkey.
On Trafalgar tours we love to see our guests jump up for a jive or a boogie at the end of group dinners. There’s often live music, buskers and artists on the road as you journey from one destination to the next as well.
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Do you think dancing is the secret to anti-ageing? Let us know if you will give it a try in the comments…