WhatsNew2Day
Latest News And Breaking Headlines

Learning Latin dances like the salsa, samba and merengue can help improve your memory, study finds

Latin dance classes may not only be fun, but they may help an elderly or middle-aged maintain their brain health later in life, a new study finds.

Researchers from the University of Illinois and Indiana University found that regular dance classes in salsa, samba and merengue helped improve a person’s working memory — short-term memory that is kept in the background of a person’s mind while they take other courses.

The fun, engaging exercise works not just the brain, but the body as a whole — which is linked to better cognitive health in general.

Medical experts have long known that increased physical activity can have major benefits for the brain in old age, and the research team is hopeful that a fun exercise like dancing will be more appealing to some than jogging or other standard workouts.

Researchers found that middle-aged and elderly people who participated in dance classes had stronger memory skills than their peers who just took health classes (file photo)

Researchers found that middle-aged and elderly people who participated in dance classes had stronger memory skills than their peers who just took health classes (file photo)

Researchers, who published their findings earlier this year in the Frontiers in aging neurosciencecollected data from more than 300 Spanish speakers in the Chicago, Illinois area over the course of four years.

The participants were divided into two groups, one was sent to dance classes twice a week for eight months. During the first half of this period, the participants received instructions from a professional.

The other group attended four months of weekly health education classes.

After the first four months, participants were given cognitive tests to measure their cognitive health and memory skills.

By the halfway point, both groups of participants had similar results, although that could happen by the eight month mark — where the dance troupe began to distance themselves.

The participants who took the dance classes also reported feeling better overall, coping better with chronic illnesses, and even saying they made friends more easily.

Researchers said that for this group of Latinos in particular, Latin dances were great for their health because of how engaging they were.

“For older Latinos, the thought of promoting dance as an exercise is very appealing, as older Latinos are somehow familiar with dance,” Dr. Susan Aguinaga, an Illinois professor of kinesiology and lead author of the study. UPIA

“They grew up with it, maybe they danced in the past and they like it.”

However, the researchers hope these results are reproducible outside the Latino community.

Researchers say Latinos in particular benefited from the dance because it's more appealing to them, but they believe the results could be replicated across ethnic backgrounds (file photo)

Researchers say Latinos in particular benefited from the dance because it’s more appealing to them, but they believe the results could be replicated across ethnic backgrounds (file photo)

“It’s an attractive kind of physical activity that they want to keep engaged in,” Aguinaga said.

In general, populations struggle to maintain their physical activity levels, but when it’s an activity they really enjoy, they’re more likely to sustain that activity for a longer period of time.

“The takeaway is definitely finding an activity that’s fun, that’s engaging, and if dancing is that activity that provides fun and physical activity and social support, then I think this is an activity that should be promoted more.”

There have long been links between regular exercise and slowing cognitive decline.

The Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota, writes that people who are physically active are less likely to experience a decline in mental functioning.

As a result, they are also less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, a devastating condition that affects more than six million Americans.

The exact mechanism linking physical activity to cognitive abilities has not yet been established by medical experts.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More