Footloose at 95
Last week, The New York Times posed a fun question: “Could learning to dance the minuet or fandango help to protect our brains from aging?”
Writing for the Well section, author Gretchen Reynolds highlighted a new study from the University of Illinois at Urbana. It found that formerly sedentary people in their 60s and 70s had improved brain function and health as they took up dancing.
In the span of just six months, the “cognitive demands of dancing” increased the white matter in a part of the brain that helps run memory and quick thinking.
Dance therapy is gaining popularity among researchers and those working in rehabilitation, such as Laura Dressler, a wellness director for the Good Samaritan Society. The complexity of learning and repeating dance steps stimulates the brain and body and may provide a protective effect against dementia in older adults. Beyond all the science, it’s also a lot of fun.
Laura uses dance as therapy at the Good Samaritan Society in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She recently met Vern Just, a 95-year-old whose love of dance has helped him regain his balance, return to the golf course and renew a shared pastime with his wife, Gloria.
Click here for more from Vern and Gloria.
Video by Lonnie Nichols, Good Samaritan Society