Dancing Actually Keeps Your Brain Healthy, So You Should Probably Find Your Rhythm

by Julia Guerra

By now, I think it's safe to say that there is no fountain of youth. Scientists may still be working on a magic potion to bestow upon us the gift of never-ending adolescence, but the best and only sure-fire way we know how to keep ourselves looking and feeling 10 years younger is to eat right and exercise often. Be that as it may, not everyone enjoys running or high intensity weight training, so what's the alternative? According to new research, something as simple as dancing is healthy for you, and can keep us feeling young, too.

To explore this claim, scientists from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Disease and Institute for Sports Science compared and contrasted how both moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and dancing could have a positive impact on the brain. Participants were asked to participate in a weekly dance class, and were given MRI brain scans to prove whether or not the activity produced positive benefits.

It turns out dancing, as well as traditional aerobic exercise, can improve the brain's functionality.

Think of all the times you've been in a car, turned on the radio, and a familiar tune from way back when came on. I dare you to tell me you didn't remember every lyric, couldn't visualize the music video in your mind.

Music can be extremely powerful, and it turns out these mindless acts of musical clarity aren't so mindless at all. In fact, according to the recent study, memorizing choreographed dance routines or even just tapping along to a familiar beat sparks neural activity and functional connectivity in the brain.

And this isn't the first time our brains and dance have been connected in that context. In a 2016 study published in the Journal of Cognitive Psychology, study authors found that sports dancers not only had a better understanding of their bodies physical functionality, but they also believed that their rhythm perception was directly linked to brain activity.

Dancing can also improve your memory.

Ever heard the phrase "shake the sillies out?" Apparently, if you shake, shake what your mama gave ya, you can also shimmy out a memory or two.

Everyday Health reported that, according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, scientists revealed that "aerobic exercise can reverse volume loss in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls memory." The hippocampus, they explain, shrinks naturally when human's enter adulthood, so by reversing the shrink, it is less likely that person will develop demential and other brain-altering diseases.

The best part is, you don't have to be a professional dancer to reap these health benefits.

If you're a natural dancer in the Jenna Dewan Tatum sense, busting out into sashays and choreographing hiphop on and off stage, that's awesome (and impressive). But if you're more of a closet aerialist who prefers getting into the groove with her kitchen radio and trusty hairbrush, that's equally as awesome.

You don't have to be a professional dancer to to reap all of the physical and mental benefits this activity has to offer. Take an hour to attend Zumba at the club with your best friend, or make a playlist and jam in your living room to wake yourself up in the morning.

Even though it's officially an alternative to exercise now, dancing is supposed to be fun! Leave the competition for Dancing With The Stars and enjoy!