The Bonus Benefits of Dancing at an Older Age

For those of us old enough to remember the popular TV program “American Bandstand,” dancing has always seemed like a fun social activity. And even now, when “Dancing with the Stars” is a hit network show, few people think of dancing as an easy way for seniors to stay healthy and avoid health problems. But the truth is, as far back as the 1940s, dancing has been proven to be both a natural form of communication and a way to improve physical and mental well-being.

We all know that dancing is a great way for our bodies to get needed exercise, but a 2003 study funded by the National Institute on Aging, led by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that it can also build better brain function and even reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease. When a group of seniors over age 75 were followed to see which activity offered the most benefits — bicycling, crossword puzzles, dancing, housework, golf, playing cards, playing musical instruments, reading books, swimming, tennis, walking, writing for pleasure — the seniors who danced were 76% less likely to develop dementia.

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