By Amy Lawton
We all know dancing is great for our bodies, encouraging cardiovascular health, getting us moving in different ways and adding to musculoskeletal strength and conditioning. But did you know about it’s positive effects on the neurological system and mental health? It is even being used to treat Parkinson’s Disease, as well as memory disorders such as dementia.
Dancing requires complex mental co-ordination, using both the motor and sensory systems, and music stimulates the reward centres of the brain so when we dance it results in widespread use of our neurological system in a pleasurable way.
Research has shown dance to decrease anxiety and boost mood more effectively than other physical outlets.
TIP: choose a song that makes you happy every day, shut your curtains so your neighbours can’t see, close the doors so you don’t get interrupted and let loose!
During dance, an area of the brain called the cerebellum which is responsible for co-ordination amongst other things, is also stimulated which can lead to improved balance and decreased dizziness.
TIP: tai chi is another great form of exercise which helps with balance and co-ordination.
Brand new research from this year has shown that the biggest predictor of future dementia is a sedentary lifestyle. However, it also showed is that it’s never too late to start. Even following the onset of dementia an increase in physical activity leads to improvement in memory.
TIP: learning a choreographed dance leads to an even stronger improvement in your memory- simple dances can be found on sites such as you tube or if not choose an iconic music video or get creative and make up your own.
Dance has many positive effects on us, not just for fitness but for balance, memory and mood. There are no limits as to how you can incorporate dance into your life, from an African or tap dance class to dancing in your bedroom, only your imagination can limit what you can do!