Two-stepping your way to a healthier way of life

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, July 23, 2011

For centuries, dance manuals and other writings have lauded the health benefits of dancing, usually as physical exercise.

More recently, we’ve seen research on further health benefits of dancing, such as stress reduction and increased serotonin levels, with its sense of well-being.

Most recently we’ve heard of another benefit: Frequent dancing apparently makes us smarter. A major study added to the growing evidence that stimulating one’s mind can ward off Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, much as physical exercise can keep the body fit. Dancing also increases cognitive acuity at all ages.

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You may have heard about the New England Journal of Medicine report on the effects of recreational activities on mental acuity in aging. Here it is in a nutshell:

The 21-year study of senior citizens, 75 and older, was led by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, funded by the National Institute on Aging, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Their method for measuring mental acuity in aging was to monitor rates of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

The study wanted to see if any physical or cognitive recreational activities influenced mental acuity. They discovered that some activities had a significant beneficial effect. Other activities had none.

They studied cognitive activities such as reading books, writing for pleasure, doing crossword puzzles, playing cards and playing musical instruments. And they studied physical activities like playing tennis or golf, swimming, bicycling, dancing, walking for exercise and doing housework.

One of the surprises of the study was that almost none of the physical activities appeared to offer any protection against dementia. There can be cardiovascular benefits of course, but the focus of this study was the mind. There was one important exception: the only physical activity to offer protection against dementia was frequent dancing.

• Reading: 35 percent reduced risk of dementia

• Bicycling and swimming: 0 percent

• Doing crossword puzzles at least four days a week: 47 percent

• Playing golf: 0 percent

• Dancing frequently: 76 percent.

That was the greatest risk reduction of any activity studied, cognitive or physical.

Doctors have started prescribing dancing for patients who might not exercise any other way.

Enjoy it. Just have a great time and get your heart rate up.

Tuesday evening, get smarter by coming to the senior center for our “Dance and Sundae’s party.” Live music is by Chris Von Arx. When you’re ready for a break, help yourself to a Culver’s custard sundae or banana split. It all starts at 5 p.m. Register by calling 507-433-2370, extension 0.

Upcoming Events

Monday: Blood pressure checks, 9 a.m.; cards, 12:30 p.m.; Pinochle and Bridge.

Tuesday: Silver Sneakers, 8:30 a.m.; Exercise with Evie, 9 a.m.; cards, 12:30 p.m.; Pinochle and Duplicate Bridge; SilverSneakers, 4:30 p.m.; Dance and Sundaes, 5 p.m., music by: Chris Von Arx.

Wednesday: Tai Chi, 9:30 a.m.; cards, 12:30 p.m.; Pinochle, Cribbage tournament and Duplicate Bridge; Stitching Bees, 1 p.m.; open chess, 1 p.m.

Thursday: SilverSneakers, 8:30 a.m.; Exercise with Evie Anderson, 9 a.m.; Cards, Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.; Bingo, 1 p.m.; open chess, 1 p.m.; SilverSneakers, 4:30 p.m.

Friday: Tai Chi, 9:30 a.m.; cards, 12:30 p.m.; Bridge Tournament.

Weekly Card Results

Monday Bridge

July 11, two tables

1st Loretta Nelson, 2nd Steve Howard, 3rd Betty Jorgenson, 4th Lois Johns, 5th Mary Johnsen.

Tuesday Afternoon “500”

Tournament results for July 12, four tables

1st Jerry Downing, 2nd Dorothy Stern, 3rd Helen Broitzman, 4th Sally Michels

Tuesday Afternoon Bridge

July 12, six tables

1st Bud Higgins, 1st Jim Fisher; 2nd Russ Vaale, 2nd Mabel Vaale; 3rd Joyce Crowe, 3rd Millie Seiver; 3rd Gail Schmidt, 3rd Ray Schmidt; 4th Lorraine Lippert; 5th Phyllis Helgeson

Friday Bridge

Tournament results for July 15, three tables

1st Dave Ring, 2nd David Solomonson, 3rd Loretta Nelson, 4th Betty Jorgenson, 5th Lois Johnson


David Solomonson

Friday Cribbage

Tournament result July 15, one table

1st Hilton Henschen, 2nd Dorothy Peterson

Weekly Cribbage

Tournament result

July 13, 3 and 3/4 tables

1st Mable Vaale, 2nd Hilton Henschen, 3rd Dorothy Schloo, 4th Quentin Fiala.

Weekly “500”

Tournament results for July 15, five tables

1st Arnold Bergstrom, 2nd Barb Dickman, 3rd Wayne Chilson, 4th Eddie Hall.

Semcac daily meals

Monday: Green pepper steak Tuesday: Breaded pork steak

Wednesday: Roast beef

Thursday: Baked chicken

Friday: Hamburger on bun