Jean Piaget, the famous Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher said, intelligence is what we use when we don't already know what to do.
So, what does this have to do with dancing? Getting involved in activities which require instant, rapid-fire decision making helps improve our thinking, as opposed to using rote memory (retracing the same well-worn paths). Whether you’re leading or following while social dancing, you need to make fast decisions as you glide across the dance floor. Making these decisions over time increases the connections between neurons in the brain and this increases mental capacity.
While all types of dancing are good for your body, studies have shown that social partner dances such as the ones we teach at Quick Quick Slow Ballroom Dance Studio like foxtrot, swing, waltz, mambo and salsa, also challenge your mind; and dancing a variety of dances and with different partners enhances your brain alertness and flexibility.
Dr. Joseph Coyle, a Harvard Medical School physiatrist says our brains are very elastic which means they “rewire” themselves after each use. Many of us have heard that doing new things, such as learning a language, or driving a different route to work can help ward off diseases like dementia and alzheimers. This is because with each new activity our brain rewires itself. If you try new things like dancing, researchers say you are opening up new pathways in the brain that improve mental capabilities.
You don’t need to be a great dancer to get these benefits. You don’t need to have great rhythm to get these benefits. Those are excuses many of us use to stay off the dance floor and out of dance class. But they don’t work here. Forget about what you will or won’t look like and concentrate on learning the steps, experiencing the music and synchronizing with your partner. Before you know it, not only will you be increasing your brain power, you’ll be having fun!