Elderly volunteers with an average age of 68 participated in the study for eighteen months at the German center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Magdeburg, Germany. In this study, we show that two different types of physical exercise (dancing and endurance training) both increase the area of the brain that declines with age. In comparison, it was only dancing that lead to noticeable behavioral changes in terms of improved balance,” said Dr Kathrin Rehfeld, lead author of the study. The hippocampus region of the brain is important because this area can be prone to age-related decline and is affected by diseases like Alzheimer’s.
During the study, the dance group was challenged with something new each week.” We tried to provide our seniors in the dance group with constantly changing dance routines of different genres (Jazz, Square, Latin-American and Line Dance). Steps, arm-patterns, formations, speed and rhythms were changed every second week to keep them in a constant learning process. The most challenging aspect for them was to recall the routines under the pressure of time and without any cues from the instructor,” the study revealed. What they do now is combining physical activity and active music to observe better changes which occur for dementia patients. The conclusion of the study is important as recommendation to set a new life style: “I think dancing is a powerful tool to set new challenges for body and mind, especially in older age.”