In motion: Jiving makes you smarter

BONUS: Dancing is great for health and fitness, but did you know it can also make you smarter? Photo: Shutterstock
BONUS: Dancing is great for health and fitness, but did you know it can also make you smarter? Photo: Shutterstock

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It’s no surprise that dancing makes you feel good. It has been an important part of human culture as far as history’s been documented.

And there’s plenty of evidence it is great for physical health. Now there are studies that show that it can make you smarter.

A 21-year study of people 75 and older monitored rates of dementia by tracking mental acuity, and what cognitive and physical activities had an effect.

The results of the study, led by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

They studied cognitive activities such as reading books, writing for pleasure, doing crossword puzzles, playing cards and playing musical instruments. 

Physical activities included playing tennis or golf, swimming, bicycling, dancing, walking for exercise and doing housework.

Surprisingly, most of the physical activities did not appear to influence the onset of dementia. Except one: frequent dancing, which reduced the risk of dementia by 76 per cent.

One explanation is that dancing involves learning, which creates new connections in the brain. The brain is always reinventing itself and if it doesn’t need the parts that assist with learning, those bits weaken. Learning something new creates new neural pathways. It really is a case of use it or lose it.

It is thought that the fast decision making involved in certain types of dancing, and the way it encompasses other brain functions such as music and emotions, compared to the repetitive motions involved in some other activities, contributes to building brain power.

And if dancing is like enjoyable exercise for your brain, why not get your children involved in this pastime as soon as you can.

Dancing is like a complete vitamin tablet – it can give you a great boost.

Children can make friends and learn how to socialise, improve fitness and co-ordination, and develop discipline and commitment. They’ll be surrounded by music and enjoy the reward which practice can bring. Get their dancing shoes ready!

It is thought that the fast decision making involved in certain types of dancing, and the way it encompasses other brain functions such as music and emotions ... contributes to building brain power.