Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Aging Neurosci., 26 February 2013 | doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2013.00005

Six months of dance intervention enhances postural, sensorimotor, and cognitive performance in elderly without affecting cardio-respiratory functions

Jan-Christoph Kattenstroth1, Tobias Kalisch1,2, Stephan Holt3, Martin Tegenthoff2 and Hubert R. Dinse1*
  • 1Neural Plasticity Lab, Institute for Neuroinformatics, Ruhr-University Bochum, Bochum, Germany
  • 2Department of Neurology, BG-Kliniken Bergmannsheil, Ruhr-University Bochum, Bochum, Germany
  • 3Department of Cardiology, BG-Kliniken Bergmannsheil, Ruhr-University Bochum, Bochum, Germany

During aging, sensorimotor, cognitive and physical performance decline, but can improve by training and exercise indicating that age-related changes are treatable. Dancing is increasingly used as an intervention because it combines many diverse features making it a promising neuroplasticity-inducing tool. We here investigated the effects of a 6-month dance class (1 h/week) on a group of healthy elderly individuals compared to a matched control group (CG). We performed a broad assessment covering cognition, intelligence, attention, reaction time, motor, tactile, and postural performance, as well as subjective well-being and cardio-respiratory performance. After 6 months, in the CG no changes, or further degradation of performance was found. In the dance group, beneficial effects were found for dance-related parameters such as posture and reaction times, but also for cognitive, tactile, motor performance, and subjective well-being. These effects developed without alterations in the cardio-respiratory performance. Correlation of baseline performance with the improvement following intervention revealed that those individuals, who benefitted most from the intervention, were those who showed the lowest performance prior to the intervention. Our findings corroborate previous observations that dancing evokes widespread positive effects. The pre-post design used in the present study implies that the efficacy of dance is most likely not based on a selection bias of particularly gifted individuals. The lack of changes of cardio-respiratory fitness indicates that even moderate levels of physical activity can in combination with rich sensorimotor, cognitive, social, and emotional challenges act to ameliorate a wide spectrum of age-related decline.

Keywords: enriched environment, dance therapy, VO2max, intervention, sensorimotor, cognition, balance, successful aging

Citation: Kattenstroth J-C, Kalisch T, Holt S, Tegenthoff M and Dinse HR (2013) Six months of dance intervention enhances postural, sensorimotor, and cognitive performance in elderly without affecting cardio-respiratory functions. Front. Aging Neurosci. 5:5. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2013.00005

Received: 19 November 2012; Accepted: 03 February 2013;
Published online: 26 February 2013.

Edited by:

Philip P. Foster, University of Texas Medical Branch, USA

Reviewed by:

Douglas Watt, Quincy Medical Center, USA
Leonhard Läer, University of Tuebingen, Germany
Liliana Letra, University Hospital of Coimbra, Portugal

Copyright © 2013 Kattenstroth, Kalisch, Holt, Tegenthoff and Dinse. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Hubert R. Dinse, Neural Plasticity Lab, Institute for Neuroinformatics, Ruhr-University Bochum, D-44780 Bochum, Germany. e-mail: hubert.dinse@rub.de

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