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Dancing Will Keep Your Brain Young, Says New Study Of White Matter

Keeping your mind young might be as easy as heading to a Zumba class, suggests a new study from researchers at Colorado State University. They found that dancing can help keep the white matter in our brains from aging as quickly. White matter is the wiring in our brains that connect to each other and allows for communication.

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In a blog post on Colorado State University’s website, the author explains that as we age, the brain’s wiring, or white matter, weakens, which causes lapses in signals sent in the brain. This communication is vital and helps us perform everyday tasks.

For the study, 174 healthy adults between 60 and 79 years old got together three times a week for six months. They were then assigned into groups: aerobic walking; aerobic walking with a daily nutritional supplement; stretching and balance class, this was the control group; and dance class. The dance classes were social group dances that were choreographed and taught by instructors. The dance classes were aimed at working cognitive and motor-learning skills.

White matter was measured before and after the six-month trial.

“Together, our findings suggest that combining physical, cognitive, and social engagement (dance) may help maintain or improve (white matter) health and more physically active lifestyle is associated with slower (white matter) decline,” the study authors wrote in their paper.

little-girl-twirling-773023_1920 Dancing can keep you young, says study. Pixabay

“I think it’s amazing,” said Yuqin Jiao, a CSU graduate student who worked on the study’s findings, in a statement. “It shows that when it comes to the effects of aging, it’s never too late to change. I think that’s important information to deliver: that there’s hope.”

The researchers are looking for easy, enjoyable ways that slow the aging process.

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“Dance is more enjoyable than just walking in a gym,” Aga Burzynska, PhD and study co-author, said in a blog post. “We are looking for things that people find enjoyable and captivating, and will continue doing.”

Previous research has shown that dancing can help improve mood and balance too. 

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Correction: 

This article was updated to correct the name of the university involved in the study: It is Colorado State University. 

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