PENNSYLVANIA, USA — June is Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness month, a time to shed light on the disease that affects more than 280,000 Pennsylvania residents. As experts try to find ways to combat the rising problem, we're looking at why many say something as simple as dancing, could help a lot.
Dancing has long been known to benefit our well-being, but now experts say if you do it a lot, it could also prevent memory loss and cognitive decline.
An experiment at Coventry University in England shows that frequent dancing of any kind is linked to a 76% lower risk of dementia. Amateur dancers were evaluated before and after a 30-minute dancing session. Experts noticed that their spatial working memory and the ability to hold onto visual information in the brain increased by 18% with modest improvement in cognitive function.
Several other studies on dancing back the claims that the activity helps mitigate dementia and heart disease risk in the elderly over time. Besides that, dancing triggers new connections in the brain and can also contribute to weight loss.
Researchers believe one reason why this is, is because of dance's ability to increase hippocampus volume; that's the area of the brain that deals with spatial memory. Dancing also improves white matter, or the number of cells linked to processing memory and speed.
FOX43 talked to a professional ballet dancer from The Pa. Ballet Academy in Camp Hill, Cumberland County, who said he absolutely can see how the activity could improve brain function.
"First, it starts with an idea of how you can express yourself and obviously, if you think about it, you apply it to your body, and you're using muscle memory, coordination, musicality, so everything combined helps you develop such a strength," Davit Karapetyan said.
Experts also say dancing can also eliminate anxiety, boost confidence, and lower stress, ultimately resulting in a healthier, happier, and maybe even, hipper, you. So get on those dancing shoes, because your brain will thank you for it.
For a full look at the research experiment, click here.