Square Dancing is known to protect against dementia, presumably because it requires multiple mental and physical skills.
From a study lead by Joe Verghese, Neurologist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York, June 2003:
Mentally challenging activities can significantly reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Seniors who exercised their minds lowered their risk of developing dementia by as much as 75%. Ways to increase participation in cognitively stimulating activities are widely available and inexpensive and seem to benefit all levels of education and intelligence.
Exercising to Music Doubles the Benefits - From Ohio State University, 2004:
To turn a heart-healthy workout into an IQ lift, just add music. A team at Ohio State University found that cardiac patients who exercised to music did twice as well on a test of cognitive ability as they had done after exercising in silence. Exercise alone causes positive changes in the nervous system, and adding music may stimulate different pathways in the brain.
Social Dancing - Excellent Exercise - From January 1994 Mayo Clinic Health Letter:
Jazz up your fitness routine with a regular dose of dance. Regular exercise doesn't have to be a chore. Whether you're swirling across the floor to a Strauss waltz or doing Do-si-dos to the commands of a square dance caller, you're getting exercise - and probably having fun too. Dancing pairs you up with more than a partner. It also offers the following significant health benefits:
Calories - Dancing can burn as many calories as walking, swimming or riding a bicycle. During a half hour of sustained dancing you can burn between 200 and 400 calories.
Cardiovascular conditioning - Regular exercise can lead to a slower heart rate, lower blood pressure and an improved cholesterol profile. Experts typically recommend 30 to 40 minutes of continuous activity three to four times a week. Square Dancing twice a week for two hours each time provides a large part of this recommended activity.
Strong bones - The side to side movements of many dances strengthen your weight bearing bones (tibia, fibula and femur) and can help prevent or slow loss of bone mass (osteoporosis).
Rehabilitation - If you're recovering from heart or knee surgery, movement may be part of your rehabilitation. Dancing is a positive alternative to aerobic dance or jogging.
Sociability - Dancing contains a social component that solitary fitness endeavors don't. It gives you an opportunity to develop strong social ties which contribute to self-esteem and a positive outlook.
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