We know that movement is important for its physical benefits to the body, but we can’t ignore the crucial benefits of aerobic exercise to brain health, mood, and cognitive function.
Impact of Aerobic Exercise on the Brain
First of all, it’s good to know that there are many ways exercise is beneficial to us. Even apart from the obvious positive impact it has on the health of bones, muscles, joints, and the heart, it’s critical to the health of the brain, too. Aerobic exercise causes a rise in the heart rate, which increases oxygen to the brain. Even a mere 20 minutes of exercise each day can amplify memory functions and information processing, leading to better cognition when doing tasks, or improving accuracy. Exercise also reduces stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which helps with our behavioral health and overall mood. That’s what people mean when they talk about a “runner’s’ high.” Exercise keeps us sharp and happy!
Your Brain on Music
Music is known for its overwhelming cognitive benefits. In fact, music has been so well-studied in this area, that there is now an entire discipline dedicated to the study of music’s effect on the nervous system. This discipline is known as neuromusicology, and it continues to prove that every part of the brain is influenced by music, and that music helps us avoid cognitive and memory decline as we age. The hippocampus, which is a part of the brain that is responsible for long-term memories, is especially active while a person is listening to music. Also, just as exercise does, music lowers that stress hormone, cortisol, and increases dopamine, which is known as the “feel-good hormone,” giving us a mood boost.
Dance and the Brain
Another way to increase cognitive function is through dance. Dance combines the use of the body, mind, and social functions all at once, keeping us on our toes –– sometimes quite literally! Using PET imagery, researchers are learning that dance activates multiple regions of the brain, including sensory and motor circuits. Activating those circuits helps keep executive function sharp, and increases memory capacity. In fact, dance therapy is growing in popularity as a treatment for patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Studies show that dance helps reduce stress, increases levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin, and helps develop new neural connections, especially in regions involved in executive function, long-term memory, and spatial recognition. In other words, dance helps us grow new neuron pathways in our brain! The effect is on par with learning a new foreign language or playing music. Few things are better for the brain and for staving off dementia than dance.
Any one of these activities alone would be a boon to the brain, full of positive effects and good feelings. The combination of this tremendous trifecta will bring three times the promised benefits. This is why we utilize dance and music in our programs on Wysefit. in particular, you can try some of our most popular classes in the “Move to Music” series – total body workouts set to fun Latin and African beats. We also have a fabulous ‘Belly Dance Fit” series and short Dancer Conditioning dynamic mobility warm-ups from this program offered separately.
Through these enjoyable exercise programs, you will enjoy sharper cognitive function, better memory, and lower stress in the exhilarating triple-whammy of fitness, music, and dancing.
If you like this post, find our Belly Dance Fit, Dancer Conditioning, and Move to Music class series in Wysefit App. Enjoy!