Dancing is a Great Mental Workout
By Fred Astaire Dance Studio, Indianapolis South LIVING WELL Magazine
When she was just 13 or 14 years old, philanthropist Hillie Mahoney learned the waltz from her father. She’s been ballroom dancing socially ever since, but Mahoney says she’s still learning the nuances – posture, for instance – especially since she recently began dancing competitively. “I thought I knew how to dance until I took classes,” she says, “it’s more than dragging the feet around. There’s coordination between the brain and the feet.”
Ballroom dancing attracts a wide variety of participants, although, like Mahoney, 73, the majority are 21 and up. It’s easy to figure out why dancing makes great exercise, just go dancing. For hard scientific proof, a study presented during last November’s annual meeting of the American Heart Association tracked a group of 110 individuals who had randomly assigned traditional aerobic exercise (such as cycling or walking on a treadmill), waltzing or no exercise. After performing their assigned tasks three times a week for eight weeks, the exercise group showed an oxygen consumption increase of 16% versus 18% for the waltzers and an 18% increase in cardiovascular fitness, compared to 19% among dancers. While the percentages between the groups are close, the dancers also reported an improvement in their emotions, compared with no improvements for the non-exercisers, and they were more likely to stick with dancing after that test. Really, how much fun is riding a stationary bike?
What Scientists Have Learned
As for a mental workout, a study published in 2003 in the New England Journal of Medicine analyzed 469 people at least 75 years old who answered a questionnaire about physical and mental activities, ranging from crossword puzzles to dancing. Within a median timeframe of five years, 124 had developed dementia, though the frequent dancers showed a reduced incidence. According to the study’s lead, Joe Verghese, MD, assistant neurology professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, dancing was the only physical activity tied to a lower risk of dementia.
Mark and Melissa Smith run Fred Astaire South Indy, which has been open since 1987. This school provides wonderful social, competitive, and show dancers. Along with weekly in house dance parties, the members of this studio enjoy social dancing at venues around the city. Fred Astaire South is proud to be the number one supporter of the Indiana Roof Big Band Social Dance Series. In July, they will take a large group of students, both competitors and spectators, to the annual World Championships in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Fred Astaire is a full time dance school, specializing in ballroom and Latin dancing. Whether you want to learn to dance for pleasure, competition, or to learn for specific events such as weddings, we can help! Our dance studio has six full-time, certified dance instructors who are passionate about partnership dancing. They are highly skilled dancers and communicators and can help you reach all of your dancing goals! For more information on our lessons please call us today at 317-783-5260.