We all know the benefits of physical exercise including low-impact exercise, but what many don't know are the cognitive benefits of square dancing. Square dancing requires active attention and quick physical responses, and because of this it triggers several multiple brain functions at once such as "kinesthetic, rational, musical, and emotional" which have been shown to increase your neural connectivity—in short, square dancing makes you smarter.
Square dancing is a playful type of "intelligent dancing." Within the dancing of the patterns, there is a playful and creative nature to square dancing. Square dancing also requires that both dancers actively listen and pay close attention to the caller and possibilities of the following movements.
When fully mentally engaged in square dancing, it has an amazing feel to it—when the dance lead spontaneous leads and the follower is listening to the dance lead with their mind and body, both dancers enter a "flow state" and cognitively and physically benefit.
A 20-year study published by the New England Journal of Medicine shows that dancing can make you smarter. Compared to other activities including bicycling, reading, swimming, playing golf and doing brain puzzles, regular dancing reduced the risk of dementia more than any other activity.
Dancing frequently – 76% reduced risk. The most significant risk reduction of any activity studied.
Reading – 35% reduced risk
Bicycling and swimming – 0%
Doing crossword puzzles at least four days a week – 47% reduced risk
Playing golf – 0%
Richard Powers from the Stanford University website also adds that "dancing increases cognitive acuity at all ages."
Whether you are young or old, it's never too late to get out and take advantage of the many benefits of dance!