Everybody hopes to stay alert, mentally well and physically capable as they age. A new study suggests the key may be a little boogie.
Evidence is mounting to prove that dancing can slow down the ageing process, including a recent study published by the Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases, in Magdeburg, Germany. The study shows that those that dance into latter life have improved endurance, flexibility, and mental acuity.
The newly published study, led by researcher Dr Kathrin Rehfeld, looked at how physical exercise has an effect on the part of the brain called the hippocampus – a part that controls memory, learning and balance and is typically affected by ageing.
She compared two groups of elderly volunteers – with an average age of 68 – and asked one set to do endurance and flexibility training and one group to learn new dances.
While both groups saw improvements, the participants who were asked to learn a new dance routine every week saw massive improvements in balance.
And it’s not just the physical effects of ageing dance helps – it’s also extremely good for the brain and research is beginning to show that dance lessons slow down the effects of Alzheimer’s.
“It’s not a surprise to me,” said dance teacher Michelle Hatton, who opened her school of dance and performing arts, Michelle Hatton School of Dance, in 1997.
“I’ve always known that dancing was good for you. You can see how happy it makes people to come here and have that one hour where they don’t think about anything else.
“I have plenty of people in their sixties, seventies and eighties who come to classes and they don’t look their age. When you compare them to someone who doesn’t dance or isn’t as active, there can be a massive difference.”
Michelle, who teaches all styles to all ages, but mainly Ballroom and Latin in her Bridlington studio, said:
“I’m not medically qualified but I do see the difference in people.”
So, is it ever too late to start?
“Everyone can benefit from dancing – it doesn’t matter what age you start!” Michelle said.
“It’s a brilliant way to improve mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety,” said Michelle. “Dancing releases endorphins, which are chemicals that make you feel better. Dance is therapy.
“I host a dance every month in the Spa in Bridlington and people come from miles around to attend it. It’s such a sociable event and you can see how much joy everyone gets from it!”
Michelle firmly believes that anyone can learn to dance – even if you’ve got two left feet.
“And if they’ve got the patience and really want to learn, I can teach them!”
To sign up, visit www.michellehattonschoolofdance.co.uk or find her on Facebook.
Michelle is starting a new Ballroom and Latin class for beginners on 13th September 7.30PM