Just dance, gonna be okay. Da-da doo-doo-mmm!
Elderly people, time to move your body and reverse signs of brain aging in 5, 6, 7, 8! A new study of scientists from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Magdeburg, Germany found that physical exercise can actually affect one's brain.
They utilized 26 participants, 14 of which being in the "dancing" group (average age 67) and the other 12 in the "fitness" group (average age 69). For 18 months, the first group had a weekly session of learning dance routines while the other had endurance and flexibility training.
MRI scans showed that both group actually had increased hippocampus--a region linked to memory and balance, and memory diseases like Alzheimer's. Only the dancing group, however, showed significant increase in their balance improvement. Researchers suggest that this may be due to the group's constant learning of new weekly routines.
"We tried to provide our seniors in the dance group with constantly changing dance routines of different genres (Jazz, Square, Latin-American and Line Dance),” lead-author Dr Kathrin Rehfeld said in a statement. “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."
With this, the team wants to create a new fitness program that targets the prevention of age-related decline in the brain. Called Jymmin--jamming plus gymnastics (get it?)--they're planning to have a system that senses physical activities and makes sounds out of it.
"I believe that everybody would like to live an independent and healthy life, for as long as possible,” said Dr Rehfeld. “I think dancing is a powerful tool to set new challenges for body and mind, especially in older age."
So, go get jymmin soon, people. But for now, you can start jamming and dancing first!
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