Can Rhythm-Based Group Fitness Classes Make You Smarter?
The answer is YES! And not only that, but studies have shown that regular participation in Instructor-led, musically-driven group fitness can ease symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks, improve memory and concentration, and quite simply … add more joy to your life. Not all ’cardio’ is the same. Simply walking on a treadmill to burn your intended number of calories, log in your steps for the day, or check the box that you did your 30 minutes of exercise isn’t necessarily the best use of your time. The same goes for your daily morning jog or your evening bootcamp-based workout where you are plowing through the same three stations or mindless circuits every single time. Not only do your muscles get used to the same movements day after day, but so does your brain. Each exercise session should be something different as a way to keep your body and mind stimulated. These varied workouts should also address improvements to your flexibility, balance, strength, cardiovascular conditioning and recovery methods. Adding footwork and hand/eye patterns that stimulate brain function is the absolute best choice.
The human body is meant to work as hunters and gatherers and adapt to changing environments depending on what animal we were hunting or what berry we were reaching for in that tree. So we need to consider that when we exercise in modern times, not only for muscular and skeletal development, but also for keeping our cognitive awareness in ‘training mode’. Dementia and Alzheimers in our aging population along with panic attacks, anxiety and depression in the younger age groups are all MAJOR areas of concern in our society today. We need to ask ourselves why. Perhaps we are forgetting to train our brains while we are training our bodies?
According to a study performed by The National Center for Biotechnology Information (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6040685/), dance-style exercise was superior to repetitive physical activity and actually increased the brain’s neuroplasticity, which is the formation of new neural connections and was the only sustaining and lasting positive effect on healthy adult brain activity. Not only that, but it also activates those happy/feel good emotions and endorphins which can stave off feelings of depression and anxiety triggers in everyday life. The science is there! Add in the emotional and experiential component to this and amazing things can happen. There is something very powerful when a group of people are moving synergistically to a beat or a rhythm. It’s primal and can speak to you in a very deep way. Native American drum circles date back hundreds of years and were symbolic in different tribes as a way of expressing themselves emotionally and connecting with each other. When you exercise in a rhythm-based group setting there is a similar effect. You’ll have an immediate connection with the people around you which, often times, will prompt you to work harder. And now you know that you’ll come out of class much smarter.
Written by: Tiffany Bowers
Owner + Founder/Tribe Studio