Just about any type of physical movement has the potential to slow down the aging process. A new study, however, has pinpointed one exercise, in particular, that can reverse signs of aging in the brain. Get ready to get your groove on because DANCING has now been recognized as the most effective activity for delaying dementia and other symptoms associated with an aging brain.
Exercise as Brain Nourishment
Telomeres are tiny, protective, end-caps on our DNA strands. As we age (and our cells age), telomeres shrink, shorten, and eventually fray; this is when our physical and mental health declines. Additionally, poor lifestyle circumstances like smoking, obesity, insomnia, chronic stress, and lack of exercise can speed up the disintegration of telomeres.
Conversely, physical activity positively affects our cells and their structure. In fact, research has shown that elite athletes have longer telomeres than other people their own age who do not exercise. Also, older women who participate in moderate exercise or habitually walk daily were found to have longer telomeres.
The longer the telomere, the more protection your DNA has during the process of cell division and replication. So basically, exercise can help keep your DNA healthy and be at less risk for damage. Otherwise, over time, especially without physical activity, your brain cells will not reproduce the way they once did, and neurological health can suffer.
Time to Put on Your Dancing Shoes
A study was recently published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. The research pointed to the importance of physical activity, especially among the elderly. In fact, the scientists found that if you haven’t already been regularly exercising by age 40, now would be the best time to start.
Those adults within the range of 40 and 65 were the key demographic to beginning and maintaining daily exercise. Doing so, showed a reversal of shrinking telomeres in later stages of life. Just think: Physical movement (especially dancing) can help reverse the aging process!
Dancing to Remember
The recent research was conducted by several renowned professors, two of whom shared a Nobel Prize “for the discovery of the molecular nature of telomeres.” These folks understand the nature of aging, especially when it comes to brain activity and health. For the study, the subjects participated either in dance or a controlled sports group, (which consisted of weight, endurance, and flexibility training.)
Both groups benefited from their selected activity. The group that danced, however, showed greater improvement in memory, balance, and the ability to learn. The hippocampus area of the brain actually increased. In general, that part of the brain is significantly susceptible to decline with age. Again, both dancers and the sports group benefitted, but the dancing routine proved to be more beneficial than cycling, running, or other repetitive activities.
One of the aspects that helped with boosting memory was learning choreography. The dancers needed to memorize certain movements. Even if it was simple, it made a difference. With each new step, arm movement, and rhythm, the brain functioned at a higher level. Balance also showed to be significantly improved.
The research stressed that it didn’t matter what genre of music, what types of steps, or even if you felt silly or inadequate—the bottom line was that dancing proved to delay the shortening of telomeres and can delay (or even reverse) the aging process. Looks like it’s time to boogie down!