Why is Dancing Good for Your Brain?
It has been reported that dancing can improve brain function on a variety of levels. Several types of dance practices can allow dancers to achieve peak performance by blending cerebral and cognitive thought processes with muscle memory held in the cerebellum. This can be done simply with regular aerobic training that incorporates some type of dancing once a week. Dance has been reported to be so beneficial for the brain that is it being used to treat people with Parkinson’s disease – a progressive neurological movement disorder and it is also associated with lowering the risk of dementia.
Synchronizing music and movement constitutes as a “double play” because music stimulates the brain’s reward centers, and dance activates its sensory and motor circuits. Studies with PET (Positron Emission Tomography) have shown that learning dance involves the motor cortex of the brain which is involved in the planning, control and execution of voluntary movement. It also plays a part in regions of the brain responsible for hand-eye coordination, as well as the planning of fine and complex motor actions.
Some of the advantages that come with dance are:
- Physical exercise
- Memory improvement
- Strengthened neuronal connections
- Improves mood
- Improves certain cognitive skills such as visual recognition and decision making
- Helps reduce stress
- Increases serotonin levels (feel-good hormones)
As mentioned above, dance has been found to be beneficial for patients with Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease occurs when motor-system disorders develop when the cells that produce the chemical dopamine are lost. Dopamine is essential for the brain to control movement and coordination.
So how does dance help?
Dance is considered to be a form of rhythmic auditory stimulation. For those with Parkinson’s disease, a series of fixed rhythms are presented to the patients and then they are asked to move to those rhythms. This has shown improvements in gait and upper body function. They also are able to speak and walk better if they have a steady rhythm to follow.
Mental Health Benefits
While dance is considered a recreational activity, some things that get overlooked is that it has attributed towards positive mental health. For some people, dance becomes the most purest form of communication between their mind and body, which is considered to be a healthy way to balance physical and mental health.
Dancing is considered to be a “mental escape” which is hard to find in days where communication is constant via computer screens. It has been reported that those who indulged in the habit of routinely dancing have had significantly lower stress levels than those who do not include dancing in their leisurely activities. The reason behind this is because the rhythmic movements that are associated with dancing is shown to release the trigger of endorphins, which is a known mood booster.
There you have it, dancing boasts many benefits for your brain from stimulating movement, fine tuning coordination and balance, helps with brain related diseases and reaps many mental health benefits. And the best part about dancing? There is no age limit to do it.