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Boogie to a Better Brain
Mind Booster
Let’s dance! Why the mambo can improve your memory


If this season’s all-star Dancing With the Stars competition is inspiring you to tango, today there are even more reasons to join in: New research shows that dancing doesn’t just build bones and improve balance; it can even boost brainpower. A recent study in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that dancing twice a week for six months increased memory and cognitive function among older adults at risk for cardiovascular disease. Sure, other types of exercise offer some of these benefits. But compared with jarring regimens like jogging, dancing is easy on the joints, says tennis great (and former DWTS contestant) Martina Navratilova. Plus, dancing requires some social skills—and that’s good for your brain, too.

Watch DWTS’ Corky Ballas give our editor in chief, Nancy Perry Graham, her first-ever jive-dancing lesson—in this fun and now-classic video.

Dancing With a Star

Corky Ballas turns our editor into a dancer — overnight!

Plus, Corky's top 10 ballroom tips


Corky's Tips: How You Can Dance Like a Star!

1. You have to want to learn how to dance.
If you're doing this to make your mate happy — forget it.

2. Listen to the music, clap and feel the rhythm.

3. Be sure you can walk to the music.
This means you can keep time with your legs, which is essential for dancing.

4. Learn these eight basic dance steps:
- Forward walk
- Back walk
- Side step
- Rock step (transferring weight from one foot to the other in place)
- Triple step (three little steps one after the other)
- Chassé (a gliding step-together-step)
- Balance step (stepping to the side and backward on your toes)
- Box step (left foot forward, right foot moves to meet it, then steps to the side, left foot steps next to right)

5. Use the treadmill to build stamina and strength.

6. Use your arms gracefully by "pretend painting" with your hands, wrists and elbows.

7. Learn how to isolate parts of your body.
Different dances require you to move different parts of your body. For example, the rumba uses rib cage and hips; tango uses shoulders and head, etc. So you have to be able to isolate and move parts of your body separately to fit the dance.

8. Select the first dance you want to learn — the one that excites you the most.

9. Learn a set of five dance patterns.
For example, in a wedding waltz the patterns are box step, balance step, underarm turn, pivot step and a hesitation change. These are at least the five basic dance moves that will allow you to carry out your dance. Perform the five moves, or patterns, once, loop around and start again.

10. Add a rotation to your dance for interest.
By rotating any dance pattern you can change the look of the step and make it more interesting.

Drum roll, please! You're ready to dance.

Published on Updated Oct. 2012
Article By: Jeanne Dorin McDowell
Source: AARP The Magazine

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