3 reasons why ballet helps against aging

Feb 11 / OnlineBalletClass
When you think of ballet, you may soon think of young dancers who smoothly perform the most elegant movements. But did you know that ballet also has many advantages in later life? In addition to training strength and flexibility, ballet has a demonstrably positive effect on the brain. The New England Journal of Medicine published a study showing that dance is the only physical activity that can be linked to a lower risk of dementia. And there are several studies and experts who state that ballet prevents old age. We have listed the three most important benefits for you here.

Strength, flexibility and good posture in one

The basis of ballet is based on creating beautiful shapes in which your head, shoulders and hips are perfectly balanced. Whether this is when you are standing still, or halfway through your pirouette. "Ballet improves posture while building strength and flexibility," said physiotherapist Sammy Margo in an interview with The Daily Mail. "Unlike running, where you move the same way all the time, ballet gives you a variety of movements. You keep moving your joints and muscles in different directions and in ways you wouldn't normally do so quickly. "And this also helps with typical age-related ailments like knee arthritis and back problems. According to Margo, you strengthen the muscles around your knee with ballet and the abdominal muscles that can support your back are also trained.

Dancing makes the brain more efficient in balancing

Balance can be a problem when we get older. This is partly because we lose muscle strength which in turn leads to instability. "Ballet strengthens a lot of the muscles in your legs, namely your glutes, thigh muscles and your calves. These are essential for stability, "says Margo.

The vestibular organ in the inner ear also plays an important role in balance and communicates to the brain what your body is doing and where. As we get older, the cells in this place slowly begin to die. This means that the brain can no longer detect where the body is positioned so quickly. When you are elderly and your body tilts, your brain may not receive this message in time, causing you to lose your balance.

A study in The Journal Cerebral Cortex indicates that ballet can contribute to the way the brain receives signals from the vestibular organ. Brain scans have shown that the cerebellum, an area in the core of the brain that processes signals from the inner ear, was smaller in ballerinas than in non-dancers. The signals that normally make people unbalanced or dizzy appear to have less effect in ballerinas.

"Dancing makes the brain more efficient at balancing," according to neurologist Dr. Barry Seemungal who led the investigation. "The change was most noticeable in dancers who practiced the most. It's not something they were born with. "The researchers hope to develop a dance therapy for vertigo.

Better memory and faster learning

Another benefit of ballet is that it improves your memory. The dance steps appear to be easier for beginners to remember. This is because every movement has a name and the teacher continues to name it. Professor Ruth Day, a cognitive researcher at Duke University, found that when novice and advanced dancers listened to the names of the movements while trying to learn a new dance routine, they could remember it 15 to 30 percent better than without spoken cues. The explanation of neurologists is that dance is a complex activity for our brain, using different neural pathways. Ideal for when you are old and gray and you can use some brain gymnastics.

Dance as therapy

More and more, dance is used by experts as a technique to help people living with a condition in which body functions slowly decline. Parkinson's is an example of this. In a small study (link is external) in 2011, a number of subjects with Parkinson's took ballet lessons with the English National Ballet. The researchers kept scores for how well certain activities, such as standing on one leg for 20 seconds, could be performed. They found that after the ballet lessons the mobility, posture and balance of the Parkinson's patients had improved.

So ballet has a number of significant health benefits. It is a good workout for both your body and your brain, especially when you are getting older. If you then have to choose between a run or a ballet class, go for that ballet class and experience the benefits for yourself.
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