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Kick up your heels for fun, exercise, and your memory !

///Kick up your heels for fun, exercise, and your memory !

Kick up your heels for fun, exercise, and your memory !

Dancing is filling the television airwaves and so, consequently, are the dance classes in local ballroom studios and community centers. Celebrity dancing seems exciting and glamorous to people of all ages, including seniors who recall the big band and swing eras. Dancing can help you stay fit, socialize and have fun. If you need another incentive to hit the hardwood floors, remember that dancing is the leisure activity that most effectively prevents dementia.

June TipsA study published in the New England Journal of Medicine followed people 75 or older for five years, and discovered to everyone’s amazement that dancing was by far the most effective brain-saving leisure activity (mental and/or physical) in the study. That includes golf, bicycling and swimming, which didn’t prevent dementia at all, as well as mentally stimulating activities like reading and playing cards, board games and crossword puzzles.

Dancing reduced the risk of dementia by 76 percent, while reading reduced that risk by only 35 percent. Dancing integrates several brain functions at once, increasing connectivity in brain paths. It simultaneously involves physical movement as well as musical, emotional and rational (rapid, complex decision making) processes. More frequent dancing produced the highest dementia prevention rates.

These days, seniors are learning about many activities, foods and dietary supplements, among other things, that will benefit their hearts and help them stay healthy and active longer. Although preventing the dreaded disease of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, is everyone’s hope, should seniors make time for and contribute energy and dollars to learn to dance or to revive their dancing from yesteryear?

Albert Aguilar, a former dance instructor in Oakland, California, finds there are as many answers to that question as there are people who decide to dance in their senior years. Seniors who choose to dance know it is an enjoyable aerobic exercise that helps their circulatory system. But there also are occasions and personal goals and dreams that get them out their door and into the studio or the senior center to dance to the music.

Examples include a couple who want to learn to dance to fully participate in a niece’s upcoming wedding; a widow who felt the need to connect with people socially; a woman in her late 80s who wanted to add ballroom dancing to her previous lifelong dance experience, which includes swing and ballet; a multigenerational Latino family who wanted to celebrate with Latin dance.

Aguilar adds that dance works out the mind, body and spirit; encourages interaction in literally touching ways; enables people to bring out qualities that lie dormant, for example, a flair for the dramatic; lets people try on unaccustomed roles, for example, a leader learning to follow and vice versa; and teaches life lessons and causes inner discoveries.

He recalls a family in their mid-60s to mid-90s renting his ballroom to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of a couple who had enjoyed ballroom dancing all their lives. “They all practically ran up the stairs and danced all night. I’ll always remember the woman in her mid-90s who approached me and asked ‘Don’t you have something that really swings, pop?'”

To explore dancing, identify a studio or senior center that offers a program that appeals to you. Try it on your own or invite your spouse or a friend. It will give you rewards now and good memories you’ll be less likely to forget.

Sandy Cohen & Roger Cormier (email: [email protected]; free blog: starguide4growingolder.wordpress.com)

By | 2015-04-18T09:15:17-05:00 June 15th, 2015|Tips For Growing Older|Comments Off on Kick up your heels for fun, exercise, and your memory !

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