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Dance your way into better cognitive health

Becoming forgetful is often regarded as a normal part of getting older, but it is in fact possible to maintain your quick wit and intelligence at any age. So how can you keep your brain sharp with each passing birthday? Studies have shown that participating in challenging hobbies like crossword puzzles or knitting can help simulate your brain and counteract degeneration. If crosswords and knitting aren’t your cup of tea, researchers have added another brain-boosting activity to the list: dancing.

dance

If you like to bust a move here and there, you know how good dancing can make you feel — it’s an instant mood booster! And according to a study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, it does more than put a smile on your face. Researchers found that learning dance choreography can provide cognitive benefits as well. The study showed that learning, remembering and performing the steps of a dance routine can stimulate a key area of the brain crucial for memory consolidation, learning and navigation in space — the hippocampus.

Researchers also labeled dancing as a promising intervention for improving brain structure and balance in the elderly, thanks to the combination of aerobic fitness, sensorimotor skills and cognitive demands involved.

If freestyle dance is more your thing, you’re in the clear. According to a systematic review of 18 dance intervention studies on older adults, dance of any kind can help significantly improve balance, endurance and muscle strength.

Considering the mental and physical benefits dancing provides, there’s no reason to hesitate the next time you’re given an opportunity to strut your stuff on the dance floor. And whether your memory is as sharp as ever or you’re concerned you may be starting to slip, there are plenty of other activities you can incorporate into your daily routine to help maintain healthy cognitive function, such as:

Learning a new language

Trying your hand at crosswords and puzzles

Using rosemary oil and peppermint oil in aromatherapy

Avoiding sugar and eating a healthy diet with plenty of beneficial omega-3 fats

Remember, you don’t need to wait for a relative’s wedding to move your feet. Anywhere can be a dance floor.

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