As strange as it sounds, one fun and creative way to improve memory is through dancing. Learning choreographies and developing “muscle memory” might make it easier to remember a lot more than a step or two.
Although for professional dancers, memorizing a 40-minute choreography happens in 2 hours or less, an amateur dancer might find it incredibly difficult to achieve the necessary harmony between the body, the rhythm, and the theatrical intentionality to be performed through the dancer’s expression.
What dancing does to your brain
Daniel Glaser told the NY Times that what happens in muscle memory “according to neuroscientists, is that the movements become thoroughly mapped in the brain, creating a shorthand between thinking and doing.”
Glaser also points out that “because classical ballet relies on certain discrete movements that a dancer must repeat thousands of times throughout a career, the brains of dancers, it turns out, are exquisitely sensitive to seeing movements they’ve rehearsed. If they were someone performing an arabesque, for example, certain motor areas of their brains answered as if they were themselves performing the step. ”
Thus, more than a physical exercise, dance involves an intricate way of establishing connections between emotionality and the interpretation of music as a map for body motion. It relies on the brain’s ability to coordinate all of these elements at once. Gracefully.
Although it seems exhausting, these processes contribute to a decrease in stress and an improvement in the quality of life of those who practice this delicate art. Moreover, dancing could have effects on intelligence, since studies indicate that dancing frequently can make you smarter.
How does dance affect one’s mental health?
The dancer’s constant search for and recognition of steps is transferred to the personal reality through execution. This achieves a level of mental stimulation that has proven to be a useful tool to fight against degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia.
As the New England Journal of Medicine points out, recreational activities, particularly dance, result in improving and prolonging the mental skills of those who practice them. The fantastic thing about the results of the study is that, although most physical activities, bring significant benefits for the cardiovascular system and muscle tone, they have almost no effect on the mental health of those who practice them.
However, dance has benefits similar to those obtained by the brain of a person who learns a new language. In some way, the stimulus received by the brain, between the dopamine released during moments of happiness from facing new challenges and the excitement of achieving choreographic results, helps to maintain mental agility and cognitive abilities.
According to the digital magazine Neuro, from Harvard University, the brain benefits of dancing are such that dance “therapies” has begun to be applied in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
This motor system disorder arises when the brain cells in charge of producing dopamine, the hormone of happiness, stop doing so. As a result, the ability to create new memories and to control the coordination of movement decreases, among other thing.
The benefits of dancing on Parkinson’s originate in the ability of music to activate the pleasure centers of the brain, secreting dopamine, while muscle movement promotes sensory and motor activity.
Tips to improve your memory through dance:
- The first thing is to choose a style and dance academy that suits your needs and tastes.
- Choose disciplines that involve decision making. That is to say: improvisational or guided, one that can give you the opportunity to exercise action, evolution, and constant thinking.
- On the other hand, leave aside those repetitive dance disciplines of repetitive dance, such as ballroom dancing, since the sequential pattern gives little scope to the imagination and therefore does not give way to the creativity and effervescence of neuronal processes that we are looking.
- Because dance is an art that integrates many areas of the brain: kinesthetic, rational, musical, and emotions, the more you practice, the more opportunity you have to increase your intelligence and number of mental connections. Take a little time each day to review, even mentally, the routine of steps you are rehearsing. Your body and mind will thank you.
- Likewise, initiating new activities is an excellent opportunity to make new friendships and develop new satisfactory social relationships that bring new conversational topics and challenging points of view to your old paradigms. All this novelty has an enormous positive impact on the maintenance of our biological and psychological health.
- If you are in a relationship, you’ll find that the process can be even more therapeutic. Try a new dance style together for a better and more lasting physical and mental health.
- Though it is challenging to learn choreographies, applying memory techniques to recall fragments of the routine might help you: divide it into parts so your mind can recall small segments of the sequence.
- Then you can use other areas of your brain to provide content the steps, that is: funnily name them so that your mind can associate them readily, associate them with the segment of the song in which they play to create an auditive and muscular memory.
- You don’t have to be perfect! Leave the complexes at home. Dancing is an activity that you do in search of improving your lifestyle and health. It’s about progress not about being perfect. If you are choosing to change your life you have to understand that, unlike the professional dancers who have dedicated their whole lives to this discipline, you are in the process of mastering steps that your body had never accomplished. Be Kind to yourself…. And 5,6,7,8!