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Dance yourself dizzy…how dancing can protect your brain

Dance yourself dizzy…how dancing can protect your brain

“Keeeeeep dancing” – a familiar phrase to anyone who watched ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, and altogether a great motto for life.

We all know that dancing is good for our physical health; it keeps us supple, flexible and strong, helps our joints to stay mobile, keeps our weight down, is good for our heart, staves off crumbling bones, helps our balance and keeps our blood coursing healthily through our blood vessels. As for ‘dancing yourself dizzy’, well dancers with years of practice manage to train their brains to stop this happening, so you are less likely to become dizzy the more you dance.

Recent research has shown that dancing is also good for our brains and that dancing really is one of the best ways to help prevent dementia. In our house we joke that my husband, who completes the Times crosswords in record time, then works his way through the Sudoku and the KenKen puzzles, would end up having a worn out body but a brilliantly functioning mind.   Whereas I, who dance all the time, but can’t always manage to finish the crossword, and have a congenital fear of number puzzles, would end up with the fit body but a decrepit mind.

But it’s time to take note…as dancing is actually one of the best ways to protect your brain and stave off dementia and it benefits the brain on several levels.  It blends cerebral and cognitive function with muscle memory and proprioception (the sense of the relative position of one’s own parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement). By converting what you see and hear into movements of your body, you are laying down new pathways between the nerve cells in the brain. It is these new pathways which keep your brain active and healthy. Whereas in contrast, by continually practicing the same kind of brain exercise – such as crosswords every day – you are not really getting much benefit.

After many years of marriage and equal number of years of gently asking, persuading, cajoling – ok, nagging – my husband finally agreed to take ballroom dancing lessons with me.  He actually found it a very tricky thing to do, not only physically, but mentally too.  He felt he’d had a good workout of the brain, as well as the body.

So, whether you want to dance like Diversity, achieve Debbie McGee’s impressive balance, impress your friends with your Michael Jackson spins, or simply to hold your head up high after a bit of dad-dancing at a family wedding – just start to dance.   And don’t stop. As a 91 year-old member of one of my dance classes recently told me “I just love it; I’m never going to give it up”.

Diverse Dance Classes take place at Bramcote Leisure Centre
Tuesday 9.15-10.15 and Thursday 13:00-14.00.
They’re included in our fitness memberships or on a pay-as-you-go basis; £5.70 with a Leisure card / concession Leisure card £4.

We have a little break over Christmas with classes resuming Tuesday 2nd January.

Keep dancing and wishing you a very Happy Christmas
Sarah Elbourne DDMIX Instructor