White Matter Integrity Declined Over 6-Months, but Dance Intervention Improved Integrity of the Fornix of Older Adults

gray matter and danceAbstract

Degeneration of cerebral white matter (WM), or structural disconnection, is one of the major neural mechanisms driving age-related decline in cognitive functions, such as processing speed. Past cross-sectional studies have demonstrated beneficial effects of greater cardiorespiratory fitness, physical activity, cognitive training, social engagement, and nutrition on cognitive functioning and brain health in aging. Here, we collected diffusion magnetic resonance (MRI) imaging data from 174 older (age 60–79) adults to study the effects of 6-months lifestyle interventions on WM integrity. Healthy but low-active participants were randomized into Dance, Walking, Walking + Nutrition, and Active Control (stretching and toning) intervention groups (NCT01472744 on ClinicalTrials.gov). Only in the fornix there was a time × intervention group interaction of change in WM integrity: integrity declined over 6 months in all groups but increased in the Dance group. Integrity in the fornix at baseline was associated with better processing speed, however, change in fornix integrity did not correlate with change in processing speed. Next, we observed a decline in WM integrity across the majority of brain regions in all participants, regardless of the intervention group. This suggests that the aging of the brain is detectable on the scale of 6-months, which highlights the urgency of finding effective interventions to slow down this process. Magnitude of WM decline increased with age and decline in prefrontal WM was of lesser magnitude in older adults spending less time sedentary and more engaging in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. In addition, our findings support the anterior-to-posterior gradient of greater-to-lesser decline, but only in the in the corpus callosum. Together, our findings suggest that combining physical, cognitive, and social engagement (dance) may help maintain or improve WM health and more physically active lifestyle is associated with slower WM decline. This study emphasizes the importance of a physically active and socially engaging lifestyle among aging adults.

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Dance as therapy: Dance your way to health and happiness

dance as therapyWhat do you picture when you hear the word “therapy?” An office with a couch? A physical therapy facility where people do exercises to rehabilitate from an injury?

Many people don’t associate therapy with dance, but it is indeed a form of physical and emotional therapy. Aside from the exercise-related benefits you get from dancing–improved circulation, weight loss, muscle tone, etc.–dancing can help your brain, too. Learning different styles of dance actually can aid coordination, focus, and mood.

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7 Affirmations for Self-Healing

happy 1You have the power to help your body heal itself. Whenever you’re hurt, use these affirmations to help bring your thinking and your choices back in line with basic principles that support the alignment of the physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

1. My body knows how to heal itself, and is doing so even now.
The body is naturally a self-healing mechanism. It is constantly maintaining and restoring itself. You know this to be true because your body has been doing it ever since you were born. Think about all the cuts and bruises you’ve acquired that have closed up and gone away.

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Music Therapy Can Heal Cancer and Autoimmune Diseases, Science Confirms

musicMusic therapy, or sound therapy, is the therapeutic practice of applying specific sound frequencies to the mind or body of a sick person.

If you are familiar with the law of attraction, you will know that every single organism and every single object in the universe vibrates at its own unique frequency. The general idea is that using selective audio tones, sound therapy can rebalance a person’s low frequency that is caused by sickness and absence of full health. Playing tones that promote happiness and peace will actually cause DNA strands to repair themselves.

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How playing an instrument benefits your brain

When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. What's going on? Anita Collins explains the fireworks that go off in musicians' brains when they play, and examines some of the long-term positive effects of this mental workout.

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Social dancing can be a lift and a turnaround

dancer 2Far older than most of the regulars at his weekly South Bay swing-dancing class, the World War II veteran invariably shuffles in, sidles up to his instructor and unwittingly gives voice to a scientific truth: "I'm here for my anti-aging therapy and happiness treatment."

Dancing has long been lauded as a great physical workout, yet research has increasingly shown that social dancing, such as swing, a lively, improvisational style that requires rapid-fire decision-making in concert with a partner, is also beneficial to both mind and spirit.

Doctors have prescribed her dance classes for patients dealing with depression, and many students have recovered from "horrible divorces" while learning the free-spirited Lindy Hop or the jive on her dance floor, says Rusty Frank, who has taught swing dancing since 1988 at her Lindy by the Sea school in El Segundo.

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