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30 августа 2017, 02:31

Seniors Shimmy Away Signs of Aging in Brain


Dance like nobody’s watching: It could prolong your life.

A new study reveals that older folks who routinely cut a rug may be able to reverse signs of aging in the brain.

Any form of exercise has “the beneficial effect of slowing down or even counteracting age-related decline” in mental and physical capacity, according to lead study author Kathrin Rehfeld.

But, it turns out, dancing has the most profound effect.

“We show that two different types of physical exercise (dancing and endurance training) both increase the area of the brain that declines with age,” Rehfeld, from The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, said in a statement. “In comparison, it was only dancing that lead to noticeable behavioral changes in terms of improved balance.”

A set of elderly volunteers—average age 68—were assigned an 18-month weekly course of either learning dance routines or endurance and flexibility training.

While those in the fitness program repeated exercises like cycling or Nordic walking for four months, the dance group were challenged with new routines and genres each week.

From jazz and Latin-American to square and line dancing, participants mastered various steps, arm-patterns, formations, speeds, and rhythms “to keep them in a constant learning process,” Rehfeld said.

“The most challenging aspect for them was to recall the routines under the pressure of time and without any cues from the instructor,” she added.

Those added demands, Rehfeld believes, account for noticeable improvements in balance by the hoary hoofers.

Both groups, meanwhile, exhibited a boost to the hippocampus (responsible for short-term, long-term, and spatial memory), which is one of the first regions to suffer damage in cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Rehfeld plans to trial new fitness programs—like “Jymmin” (a combination of jamming and gymnastics)—aimed at maximizing anti-aging effects on the brain.

The sensor-based system, geared toward dementia patients, generates sounds and rhythms based on physical activity.

“Physical activity is one of the lifestyle factors that can contribute to [a long, healthy, independent life], counteracting several risk factors and slowing down age-related decline,” Rehfeld said. “I think dancing is a powerful tool to set new challenges for body and mind, especially in older age.”

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Source: https://www.geek.com/science/seniors-shimmy-away-signs-of-aging-in-brain-1714011/?source