STAYING ON THE BALL

April 19, 2013
Benefits of Ballroom Dancing

Did you know that ballroom dancing (this includes Latin), has benefits that help with decision-making, memory, physical strength and more? There is a well know study on the benefits of physical activity published by the New England Journal of Medicine. While the study specifically reports on the effects of recreational activities, we can safely translate that the findings to dancing.

Partner dancing is most frequently associated with ballroom and is shown to create the greatest risk reduction of any activity studied, cognitive or physical.

This study concluded that the best way to keep your mind healthy is by making decisions. The concluding advice is to involve yourself in activities, which require split-second rapid-fire decision-making as opposed to rote memory. We say, just dance!

Taking Adult Ballroom Dance Classes

Regardless of age, staying on your game is something everyone wants. One way to do this is to learn something new like taking a dance class!. It stimulates the connectivity of your brain by generating the need for new neural pathways. Challenging classes are better for you, as they will create a greater need for new neural pathways. Dancing integrates several brain functions simultaneously including kinesthetic, rational, musical and emotional processes.

Does Dancing Impact Women and Men Differently?

The answer has less to do with the impact and more to do with the process. In ballroom dancing, the follower role typically is for females although at Joy of Dance, we encourage males and females to experience both leader and follower. Either way, dancing automatically provides a benefit by making hundreds of split-second decisions as to what to do next. Followers (usually women) tend to interpret the signals their partners are giving them, and this requires intelligence and decision-making, which is active, not passive. This benefit is greatly enhanced by dancing with different partners, not always with the same partner. With different dance partners, you have to adjust much more and be aware of more variables. This is great for staying smarter longer.

Dance leaders (often men) can also match the degree of decision-making if they choose to do so. This is best accomplished by paying close attention to their partner and noticing what works best for them; what is comfortable for them, where they are already going, which moves are successful with them and what aren’t, and constantly adapting your dancing based on these observations. That’s rapid-fire split-second decision making!

An additional way to keep sharp is to not use the same old patterns the same way each time. Make more decisions more often. Brainpower? Use it or lose it. A huge side-benefit to Ballroom dancing is that your partner will have much more fun dancing with you when you are attentive to their dancing and constantly adjusting for their comfort and continuity of motion.
Happy dancing!

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