Daily exercise is important. It stimulates and tones up both body and mind. You know the old saying “healthy body equals healthy mind” (Mens Sana in corpore sano). I couldn’t agree more.

Exercise releases endorphins increase circulation and therefore oxygen supply to the brain.

Endorphins are natural feel-good substances in our bodies. But don’t just think in terms of swimming, jogging or cycling. Dancing is even better since it has the added joy element, which reminds us we are young at heart and that life, after all, is great!

A 2003 study from Stamford University showed that dancing especially was valuable for beating signs of dementia!

Dancing can lower stress and increase serotonin levels, with an accompanying sense of well-being.

Now it seems dancing can also make us smarter, or at least block the deteriorating brain function of aging. Activities studied were reading books, writing for pleasure, doing crossword puzzles, playing cards, and playing musical instruments. And they studied physical activities like playing tennis or golf, swimming, bicycling, dancing, walking for exercise and doing housework.

One of the surprises of the study was that almost none of the physical activities appeared to offer any protection against dementia. There can be cardiovascular benefits of course, but the focus of this study was the mind: Dancing frequently – risk reduction of 76%.

Why Dancing?

Why is dancing better than other activities for improving mental capabilities?

Because typical ballroom dancing, where steps and coordination count (sorry boppers!), means a lot of snap decisions, especially for the woman or “follower”, who gets a very little warning of what’s coming next.

Really pay attention to your partner and what works best for her. Notice what is comfortable for her, where she is already going, which signals are successful with her and which aren’t, and constantly adapt your dancing to these observations.

That’s rapid-fire split-second decision making.

Don’t lead the same old patterns the same way each time. Challenge yourself to try new things each time you dance. Make more decisions more often. Intelligence: use it or lose it.

Quick Thinking Is Crucial. Healthy, well-functioning seniors who undertake a type of computerized cognitive training that targets processing speed have a 29% reduced risk for dementia after 10 years, with those completing the most training sessions having the greatest benefit, new results suggest.

Cognitive training that focused on memory or reasoning alone did not significantly reduce the risk for dementia; the only speed of reaction (note again what I said above about quick decision making in dancing). Participants were randomly assigned to one of three types of cognitive training — memory, reasoning, or speed of processing — or to a control group that received no cognitive training.

Compared with the control group, the risk for dementia was 29% lower in the speed training group. But memory training made no difference to whether an individual developed dementia or not.

What’s the take-home?

Fast gaming is probably the way to go. Online computer games specifically targeting seniors. And in Pattaya: go dance in La Bailamos dance studio, Nua Road, and with Philipino Maestro Ren Archie Payumo, you can be soon the new Fred Astaire or Johnny Travolta!