Two Left Feet?
Most of us are well aware of the physical benefits of exercise. We understand the research asserting that regular exercise increases our energy, stamina, strength, and overall health. Getting that flow of oxygen to your brain is part of that overall health benefit. We all need it.
When we think of physical exercise, we often consider a workout at the gym, weight lifting, or running. In my case, walking. But for this week’s Jumpstart Your Brain Challenge post, I want to explore the binding together of music and movement: Dance.
My husband and I enjoyed dancing. We met at a high school dance and later in life learned ballroom dancing as well as square dancing. (And no, I did not wear the big fluffy skirts.)
Tom wasn’t too sure about learning “real dances.” He claimed he had two left feet. He was athletic and enjoyed many other activities, but dancing required something he wasn’t sure he had in him.
If you read last week’s post, you’ll recall the value listening to music has for increasing your brainpower. Double that when you have to link the music to a physical set of patterns. It stretches you.
I’m going to use square dancing as my model here. Many of us learned some basic square dance moves in elementary school. Others have likely seen it performed in western movies or on television. Many of the moves are connected to other forms of dance as well.
In square dance, the expected move is called out to the participants. You don’t have to wonder what to do next. You simply listen to the square dance calls and complete the move as defined. It sounds like a “no-brainer,” right?
As it turns out, translating what you hear said and moving your body accordingly while staying in time with the music is an integration of input that will stretch your brain while working your muscles. Not to mention three other couples are depending on you to do your part. Integrating music and movement is a win-win activity.
You may achieve the same effect through Zumba or Jazzercise. (Though those may not be as much fun as dancing with your partner. Just sayin.’)
And there are levels to what you do. My husband and I studied Basic, Mainstream, and Plus levels of square dance. We had friends who moved to the next level, A-1 and knew people who studied A-2. In fact, Tom and I attended a few A-1 lessons. It was like a right-handed person learning to write with her left hand while standing on her head.
One couple, several years older than us, embraced the activity even though they never smiled while they were dancing. I had to ask why they were doing it. Their answer was simple.
It made them think. The more challenging dances forced them to listen carefully and move differently than the lower level dances.
So you’re thinking “I don’t see this happening.” I get it. Dances aren’t happening right now due to social distancing. Of course you can learn ballroom dancing via DVD’s. You can tune in to dance exercise on your computer. But you might also get some benefit from taking a different route as you walk your neighborhood, start on a different side of the store when you shop for groceries, or do your morning stretches set to music.
Whatever you decide, I trust you will increase your brainpower when you “double dip” using music and movement together.
Let me know. I love to from my readers.
From my Bio:
Rebecca Waters, EdD, completed her undergraduate work at the University of South Florida and her graduate studies at the University of Cincinnati. She served as both a public school teacher and as a professor of teacher education. Rebecca taught for a year in a private school in Kosovo where she also served as the elementary principal and the school’s liaison to the American Embassy. Rebecca is the author of two novels, Breathing on Her Ownand Libby’s Cuppa Joe. All of her books, including three books on writing, are available on Amazon.