Dancing Makes You Smarter

Mary Klootwyk

We all know the benefits of physical exercise, including low-impact exercise, but what many don’t know are the cognitive benefits of square dancing. Square dancing requires active attention and quick physical responses, and because of this, it triggers several multiple brain functions at once, such as kinesthetic, rational, musical, and emotional, which have been shown to increase your neural connectivity. In short, square dancing makes you smarter.

Square dancing is a playful type of “intelligent dancing.” Within the dancing of the patterns, there is a playful and creative nature to square dancing. Square dancing also requires that both dancers actively listen and pay close attention to the caller and possibilities of the following movements.

When fully mentally engaged in square dancing, it has an amazing feel to it. When the dance leads spontaneous leads and the follower is listening to the dance lead with their mind and body, both dancers enter a “flow state” and cognitively and physically benefit.

A 20-year study published by The New England Journal of Medicine shows that dancing can make you smarter. Compared to other activities, including bicycling, reading, swimming, playing golf, and doing crossword puzzles, regular dancing reduced the risk of dementia more than any other activity.

• Dancing frequently: 76% reduced risk. The most significant risk reductions of any activity studied

• Reading: 35% reduced risk

• Bicycling and swimming: 0% reduced risk

• Doing crossword puzzles at least four days a week: 47% reduced risk

• Playing golf: 0% reduced risk

Richard Powers from the Stanford University website also adds, “Dancing increases cognitive acuity at all ages.”

The SaddleBrooke Squares Dance Club recognizes the many benefits of square dancing and continues to dance locally in SaddleBrooke and also take advantage of the many out-of-town weekend dance festivals. Just this past March, 10 dancers from the SaddleBrooke Squares Dance Club traveled to San Diego, Calif., to attend the annual Fiesta de la Cuadrilla Square & Round Dance Festival from March 21-24. The dance was held at the beautiful Balboa Park. A total of 282 dancers attended this four-day dance, which included a variety of square dance levels, round dancing, and several dance workshops. The featured square dance callers came from Canada, Oregon, and California, while the round dance cuers were from Arizona and California. Next year’s Fiesta will be even more exciting, as it will be their 75th anniversary! To find out how you can join in this wonderful activity, visit www.saddlebrookesquares.com.