In a new, small-scale, 12-week clinical trial, investigators compared the effects of traditional physical exercise and choreographed dancing on cognition in 36 older adults with amnestic MCI. Half of the participants engaged in an exercise intervention that focused on traditional strength, aerobic, and balance exercises. The other half participated in a dance program in which they learned and carried out a new choreographed dance routine every week; dances and music varied among rumba, rock, salsa, pop, and jive. The participants first learned the steps without the music, then practiced with music and videos of the steps, and then danced with only the music. After 12 weeks, the participants’ cognitive and physical performance was compared to their starting performance. Both groups showed improvements, but the choreography group showed significantly more improvement in memory performance than the traditional exercise group. This study is consistent with others that suggest combining elements of cognitive training with exercise may be more beneficial than exercise alone. While it was limited by the small number of participants, it suggests learning some new moves on the dance floor may improve cognitive function in those with MCI.
Bisbe M, et al. Comparative cognitive effects of choreographed exercise and multimodal physical therapy in older adults with amnestic mild cognitive impairment: randomized clinical trial. J Alzheimers Dis. 2020;73:769-783. doi:10.3233/JAD-190552.