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The Einstein Ageing Study, completed in June of 2003 found that dancing helps prevent dementia. Dementia includes Alzheimer’s diseases and vascular dementia. The study included participants in six brain-stimulating hobbies, which included reading, writing for pleasure, doing puzzles, board games or playing cards, group discussions, and playing music.

In addition, the study included participants in 11 physical activities, which included team sports, swimming, bicycling, and dance. Dance was the only physical activity that benefited the brain.

This was attributed to the cerebral rather than the physical aspect of dance.

The American Council on Exercise recommends dancing for an aerobic workout, as it provides cardiovascular conditioning, which lowers blood pressure and the risk of heart disease, in addition to aiding in weight control. Since dance involves weight bearing, it boosts bone density, along with muscle strength and coordination.

Other benefits include improved balance, stamina and flexibility.

In addition to challenging the body, dance can also challenge the mind, making it sharper. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine two years ago found that frequent dancers have a lower incidence of dementia compared to people who rarely dance.

Author Joe Verghese, MD, postulates the mental benefit of dance may be due to several factors. The process of sequencing, memorizing steps and timing body movement to music involves mental activity.

Another factor is the increased blood circulation to the brain from the physical workout. Also, the social and emotional aspects of reduced stress, depression and loneliness could play a role.

Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D. says...

3. Belly Dancing for Fitness Belly dancing has evolved from traditional forms of expressive movement to heart-pumping workouts offered in gyms across the country.

Aside from working muscles that most people don't exercise in regular workouts, belly dancing is a great opportunity to learn about the music and traditions of other countries and cultures.

In general, dancing of any kind is wonderful for your body. Aerobic exercise promotes general fitness, conditions your heart and respiratory system, stimulates immunity and increases stamina. It also tones your nervous system, reduces stress, helps with balance and coordination, increases oxygen flow throughout the body and gives you a sense of well-being and empowerment. Dancing is one of the best aerobic activities of all because it's upbeat and enjoyable, and provides a thorough workout.

DANCING MAKES YOU SMARTER - excerpts from medical journal report:

The 21-year study of senior citizens, 75 and older, was led by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, funded by the National Institute on Aging, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Their method for objectively measuring mental acuity in aging was to monitor rates of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.

There was one important exception: the only physical activity to offer protection against dementia was frequent dancing.
  • Reading - 35% reduced risk of dementia
  • Bicycling and swimming - 0%
  • Doing crossword puzzles at least four days a week - 47%
  • Playing golf - 0%
  • Dancing frequently - 76%. That was the greatest risk reduction of any activity studied, cognitive or physical.