Dance Kizomba to Get Smart and Stay That Way

Kiz Talks, Aug. 21, 2014

A while back there were some brief articles making the rounds on Facebook, claiming that dancing makes you smarter. You probably saw at least one – but did you realize that KIZOMBA is especially well-suited to giving you those benefits?

The most interesting article I read on this topic came from Richard Powers, a full-time social dance instructor at Standford University’s Dance Division.

So, here’s the deal.

What Does It Mean to Be Smart?
Google’s dictionary function serves up this definition of intelligence: “the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.” Richard Powers suggesets that in essence this comes down to the ability to make decisions, and in particular decisions for which you have little time to prepare.

So how does that fit in with kizomba?
What could be more true of social dancing? When leading, we hear the music and make a last-minute decision about how to express the phrase well. When following, we are constantly making split-second decisions about how to shift our weight, adjust our spine, and so on. Unlike dances that have set combinations and patterns, kizomba is eminently well-suited to forcing our brain to react and decide in the moment.

What about the long term?
A study by the New England Journal of Medicine tested rates of dementia in senior citizens according to their recreational activities. They looked at a huge number of activities, from mental to physical. Basically none of the physical activities made any difference in warding off demntia Funny story – here were the top 3 contenders:
3. Reading: 35% reduced risk of dementia
2. Crossword Puzzles (at least 4 days a week): 47% reduced risk of dementia
1. Dancing frequently: 76% reduced rate of dementia.

That’s undeniably significant! Powers explains that it’s about creating neural connections. The more you use your brain to make decisions, the more paths you’re making in your brain. As you age, you lose some of those connections…so the more you have, the better off you are. Rather like trying to get somewhere by taxi – the more taxis there are about town, the better chance you have of getting where you need to go. The more taxis that go out of service, the more difficult it will be.

Definitely check out the full article and related studies to learn more if you’re interested. The rest of you, start pulling in more people – you could be saving them from dementia!