The Brain Dance

Exercise


If you can remember your wedding, your child’s first day of school, or the day you retired, you can thank your hippocampus. These types of memories are called episodic memories. They are the memories of your autobiography.

The hippocampus is part of your brain that’s located in the temporal lobe. It’s where your episodic memories are formed and stored so you can access them later.

And guess what? Your hippocampus really, really likes to dance.

You read that right. Dancing engages your balance and motor planning, a function controlled by your hippocampus.

A study of aging people asked them to dance for 90 minutes twice a week. After 6 months, the participants showed increases in the size of their hippocampuses. As an added benefit, they also improved their balance abilities.

If you’re like most people, it’s probably been a while since you danced. The good news is, you don’t have to be intimidated. You can lock your bedroom door, turn on your favorite song, and just let loose. You’ll get your blood flowing, burn some calories and dial up your brain health.

Once you’ve tried dancing solo a few times, think about enrolling in a dance class. Socializing with fellow dancers will have extra brain-boosting benefits.

References

  • Berkman, L. F., Glass, T., Brissette, I., & Seeman, T. E. (2000). From social integration to health: Durkheim in the new millennium. Social Science & Medicine, 51(6), 843–857. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(00)00065-4
  • Rehfeld, K., Müller, P., Aye, N., Schmicker, M., Dordevic, M., Kaufmann, J., Müller, N. G. (2017). Dancing or Fitness Sport? The Effects of Two Training Programs on Hippocampal Plasticity and Balance Abilities in Healthy Seniors. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11, 305. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00305
  • University of Queensland. (2016, December 2). Where are memories stored in the brain? Retrieved November 18, 2019, from Queensland Brain Institute website: https://qbi.uq.edu.au/brain-basics/memory/where-are-memories-stored