Should You Exercise on an Empty Stomach?

Should You Exercise on an Empty Stomach?

The Truth About Fasting and Exercise

Evidence Based 

There are a lot of reasons a person would consider exercising on an empty stomach. Many people simply like to exercise first thing in the morning. Then we have trending diet plans like Intermittent Fasting that make it difficult to schedule exercise around food consumption. Others incorporate fasting into their lifestyle for faith-based reasons. All the while, our exercise routines continue according to or despite our nutritional timing.  

So, what happens when you exercise on an empty stomach? Is it good or bad for weight loss? Does it help you burn more fat or does fasting negatively impact your workout? 

Let’s tackle these questions one by one. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering working out while fasting: 

What Happens to Your Body When You Fast? 

When we say “fasting” we typically mean you’ve gone 8 to 12 hours without food. This would be like waking up in the morning after a good night’s sleep and deciding to work out before you have your first meal. If you participate in Intermittent or Prolonged Fasting, you may be going without (or with very little) food for 12, 16, 48, or even 72 hours.1 Here’s what’s happening in your body when you fast: 

By 6-8 Hours –  Your body is still  burning through its glycogen supply. This is the most readily available form of energy. 

By 12 Hours – You enter the metabolic state called ketosis in which your body begins to break down fat.1  

By 18 Hours – You’re now in “fat-burning mode.” Your body is generating more ketones which tell your body to reduce inflammation and to make repairs to damaged DNA.1  

By 24 Hours – Your body starts a process called autophagy. This means your cells work harder to recycle old components and to break down misfolded (damaged) proteins. Misfolded proteins are connected to Alzheimer’s and other diseases.1 

If you’re interested in learning what happens once you hit 48, 54, and 72 hours of fasting, check out this article on the 5 Stages of Intermittent Fasting. For the purpose of this article, we don’t need to delve that far. 

What Happens if You Exercise While Fasting? 

 

Now that we know what’s happening on a biological level while fasting, let’s take a look at what happens when exercise is added to the equation.  

As you exercise, your body starts by using glycogen for energy. You typically have enough stored up to last you about 24 hours.3 If you manage to deplete your glycogen stores (say you’re an endurance athlete running a triathlon and you haven’t been replenishing your energy as you go), you’ll hit exhaustion. Your body still has plenty of energy stored as fat, why doesn’t it use it when glycogen levels are low? 

The body is not adapted to this. However, it can be trained! Following a low-carb diet or exercising while fasting can teach your body to draw energy from your fat-stores.3 Before this all starts to sound too good to be true, let’s define what we mean by “drawing energy from your fat-stores.”   

A terrific example by Dr. Jason Fung in his article on Fasting and Exercise, starts to illustrate this concept pretty well: Imagine that your glycogen supply is like energy stored in the refrigerator. It is ready to use but the supply is limited. Your fat is like energy stored in the freezer; it takes a greater process to make it usable but you can store a larger supply.  

Over time, exercising while fasting increases the production of fat-metabolizing proteins.3 Our muscles essentially become more efficient at breaking down fat in order to use the energy. It’s all part of how the body adapts to its circumstances.

What Other Studies Say

 

So, what does other research have to say about this? An article from the Strength and Conditioning Journal reviewed the results of multiple studies on the subject.  

The review found that endurance trained individuals who performed moderate to high-intensity cardio (while fasting) break down significantly more fat than the body can actually use.4 So, yes, the body does break down that fat, but what isn’t immediately used goes back to its original form.4 The ultimate conclusion was that the net effect of exercising while fasting was negligible and may even have negative effects on muscle strength and growth.4 

Another study examined body composition changes between a group that fasted before exercise and a group that did not. Their findings showed no difference between the two groups! They both lost significant amounts of weight and fat mass but fasting seemed to have no implication on the results.5 

So, the evidence seems to lean in two directions. The body is clearly responding to the need for energy but there are split conclusions on whether this response is beneficial. Until more research is done, fasting before exercise may come down to a matter of preference. If you’re still seeking some answers and still interested in giving it a try for yourself, let’s find out a little bit more. 

Will Fasting Before Exercise Cause You to Eat More? 

 

A study on exercising in the fasted state hypothesized that exercising on an empty stomach would increase calorie intake throughout the day. They were surprised to find that not only did their participants eat less, they were also more motivated to work out.6 These results are promising if you’re worried about your hunger causing you to overeat on days you both fast and exercise.  

Does Fasting Decrease Your Ability to Effectively Work Out? 

 

Well, it depends what you’re doing. If you’re working out on an empty stomach, keep in mind that your body has been running on its glycogen stores while you fasted. It will pull from those same stores when you exercise, at least until you run out. If you’re doing steady cardio, you’re likely to be just fine.

High-intensity exercises, however, rely on glucose for muscle contraction.7 If your energy stores are low because you’ve been fasting, your body might break down your lean muscle to get you through your workout.7 If you recall, this was the same concern that came up in the article from the Strength and Conditioning Journal. 

Closing Thoughts 

Clearly, this subject merits further research before any definitive conclusions can be drawn. Evidence can be found to back both sides of the argument. Some athletes swear by it, and there is science to prove that something is in fact happening to release and utilize your fat stores, but is it all enough to make a difference and are there significant adverse effects?  

With the research at your fingertips, it remains up to you to decide whether you want to fast or feast before your workout. Which do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below! 

For more thought provoking posts, check out What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Working Out, or, read this post to debunk some big Muscle Building and Fat Burning Myths. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter, today! 

Sources

  1. Jarreau, Paige. “The 5 Stages of Intermittent Fasting – LIFE Apps: LIVE and LEARN.” LIFE Apps | LIVE and LEARN, 22 May 2019, https://lifeapps.io/fasting/the-5-stages-of-intermittent-fasting/ 
  2. “4 BIG Health Benefits of 12 Hour Intermittent Fasting.” Clean Cuisine, 5 Dec. 2019, https://cleancuisine.com/12-hour-intermittent-fasting/ 
  3. Fung, Jason. “Fasting and Exercise.” Diet Doctor, 14 Sept. 2018, https://www.dietdoctor.com/fasting-and-exercise 
  4. Schoenfeld, Brad. “Does Cardio After an Overnight Fast Maximize Fat Loss? : Strength & Conditioning Journal.” LWW, Strength and Conditioning Journal, 2011, https://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/Fulltext/2011/02000/Does_Cardio_After_an_Overnight_Fast_Maximize_Fat.3. 
  5. Schoenfeld, Brad Jon, et al. “Body Composition Changes Associated with Fasted versus Non-Fasted Aerobic Exercise.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, BioMed Central, 18 Nov. 2014, https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-014-0054-7 
  6. Bachman, Jessica L, et al. “Exercising in the Fasted State Reduced 24-Hour Energy Intake in Active Male Adults.” Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2016, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5050386/
  7. Niedziocha, Laura. “What Happens If I Workout Without Eating?” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 24 Mar. 2019, https://www.livestrong.com/article/501975-what-happens-if-i-workout-without-eating/ 

Own Your Cold Weather Workout

Own Your Cold Weather Workout

The start of the winter season is on Saturday, December 21st this year and we’re gearing up for a cold season. Many states have already seen record lows! If, like us, you don’t plan to slow down your fitness endeavors, you need to be prepared for working out in the cold.  

 We’ll be covering the warning signs of frostbite and hypothermia and giving you some useful information for your next winter workout! 

Warning Signs  

Frostbite

Frostbite occurs when your skin and the underlying tissue are damaged by freezing. Exposed skin (especially on your nose, ears, and fingers) is most vulnerable, but you can still get it even if you’re covered up. If you plan to be out in cold weather, especially where the wind temperature is below 5° Fahrenheit (or -15° Celsius), these are some important precautions recommended by the Mayo Clinic: 

  1. Limit your time in cold, wet, and windy weather conditions 
  2. Wear loose, warm layers of clothing 
  3. Cover your ears completely 
  4. Wear mittens because they provide better protection than gloves 
  5. Wear insulating socks and sock liners that wick moisture and fit snugly 
  6. Tell others that you’ll be out and give an expected return date 
  7. Avoid alcohol as it can actually cause your body to lose heat more quickly 
  8. Stay hydrated 

Additionally, they identify these symptoms as warning signs of frostbite: 

  1. Cold skin and a prickling sensation 
  2. Numbness in the affected area 
  3. Red skin in milder forms of frostbite, and white, bluish-white or grayish-yellow skin as it becomes more severe 
  4. Hard or waxy-looking skin 
  5. Joint and muscle stiffness 
  6. After rewarming, the appearance of blisters on the skin 

If you go out prepared and know the signs, you can head into your workout with confidence. Frostbite, however, is not the only worrisome condition you have to watch out for in cold weather. While the former can lead to loss of limb, hypothermia can cause death. Here is what you should know about hypothermia: 

Hypothermia

Your body’s normal temperature is 98.6° F (or 37° C). According to the Mayo Clinic, Hypothermia starts when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it; and, will start to show its effects once your temperature falls to 95° F (35° C) or lower. 

In their article on Hypothermia, the Mayo Clinic identifies the following symptoms you should look out for: 

  1. Shivering 
  2. Slurred speech or mumbling 
  3. Slow, shallow breathing 
  4. Weak pulse 
  5. Clumsiness; lack of coordination 
  6. Drowsiness; low energy 
  7. Confusion; memory loss 
  8. Losing consciousness 
  9. In infants, you would notice bright red, cold skin 

Perhaps the easiest way to enter a hypothermic state is if you are wet from rain, snow, or if you fell into a body of water. Wind, on its own, whisks away your body heat. Add the fact that your clothes are wet, and the effect is amplified. It’s extremely important to change out of wet clothes and find a warm dry place when you are caught in cold weather. 

Things to Consider Before Heading Out

Warm the Air Before You Breathe It – Breathing heavily in cold weather can make your lungs feel like they’re about to freeze over. Wearing a face scarf over your nose and mouth can help warm the air you’re breathing and make your workout more comfortable. 

Map Your Route – You should know if you’re likely to encounter flooded areas, frozen patches of water, slick icy roads, or fallen plant life and debris. Stick to areas you’re familiar with so you can re-route if needed and still find your way. Choosing areas with more cover (like buildings, trees, etc.) will also help protect you from wind and other sporadic weather conditions. 

Plan by Time of Day – Leave for your workout when you know the temperature will be at its warmest for the day. Going too early in the morning or too late in the evening will expose you to colder temperatures and, if it’s cold enough, icy roads and frozen slush. 

Keep Hydrated – Hydrate before you leave and bring some with you if you plan to be out for a while. You may not notice that you’re sweating, but you probably are. Putting back what your body loses is important to a safe cold weather workout. 

Protect Your Skin – Sunblock is still important in the wintertime, and the brisk winter air can dry out anything that’s exposed to it. Moisturize your lips, your face, and your hands if you don’t plan to wear gloves. 

You can read up on the calorie burn of cold weather workouts by reading our post on Thermogenesis. For information on how to protect your eyes from the dryness of winter air, check out our blog on Eye Health. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today! 

Member Spotlight | Be Your Own Hero

Member Spotlight | Be Your Own Hero

The defining moment for me was definitely when I was chasing around my 15-month-old and realized that I was out of breath after just a couple of minutes. I knew that I could never be a good, active father if I kept up with the unhealthy lifestyle that I was living.

Tyler W.

LAF Member, LA Fitness

Moving Forward

Tyler is an LA Fitness member whose re-introduction to the gym completely changed the direction his life was headed. Having served in the U.S Army, Tyler was committed to training hard and staying in shape. With time, however, his activity levels dropped, and he found himself spending more and more time on the couch. In his interview, Tyler shares an honest admission to where he was before he turned onto a different path:  

“Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I’ve made mistakes in my life. Sure, I know we all have, but I know I’ve made some very big mistakes. My mistakes have cost me everything from my family, friends, finances, career advancements…you name it, really. I’ve screwed it up.

Earlier this year I found myself in an incredibly dark place. I had lost everything and everyone I cared about. I didn’t know what to do. I buried myself in work, and that didn’t help. It made my productivity even worse. I would come home and sleep. I would do nothing but lay on the couch and sleep.” 


 

Life Changing Moments Can Renew Your Motivation

If you’ve ever been in a dark place, you know how difficult it can be to find the motivation you need to pull yourself out of it. The longer you sit in your discomfort, the more difficult it becomes to find your way out. It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. Often, you’ll need a wakeup call that strikes a certain chord to help you. This is what happened with Tyler: 
 
“One day I met up with my son and his mom so that he and I could run around and play and so she and I could discuss our options moving forward. As my son and I ran around in front of Starbucks, I noticed that I was literally getting winded from just the small amount of time chasing him around. Now, while I was absolutely no Captain America, I served my time proudly in the US Army. I did ridiculous amounts of PT and kept myself in good shape. Oh, yeah…and then I got old and lazy. I couldn’t believe I was winded chasing around a 15-month-old! 

It was at this moment that I decided to try and get back to the gym. Now, if I’m being completely honest, I used a 5-day free guest pass because I almost knew that it would be just a couple day phase and then I’d be back on the couch. I worked out that first day (and by workout, I mean I did the stair-master at a pace that would have been laughed at by sloths). Before I left, I was approached and taken over to a desk to discuss membership options. In all reality, they were dirt cheap. I didn’t pay any enrollment fee, and it was all month to month, so I figured no harm no foul. 

I found myself back the next day. And the next day. And days upon days in a row after that. Every time I’d go, I would re-familiarize myself with a machine or a workout that I hadn’t done in...uh….quite some time. It became a personal challenge to myself to see just how long and hard I could push myself. In three months’ time, I lost 3 inches on my waist. I’ve lost 7% body fat and I’ve lost a total of 35 pounds. Most people would say, that’s awesome! For me, it’s not about what I’ve lost. It’s about what I’ve gained. I have gained an entirely new outlook and perspective on life.  

Being at LA Fitness everyday has become my therapy. It’s become my sanctuary. It’s given me more mental strength than physical, and for me, that’s exactly what I need.” 


 

All You Need is to Take the First Step

This all took place over the course of just a few months! Tyler made the decision to change his physical and mental well-being in late June of this year. It really came down to the fact that he made a choice and was determined to follow-through. He goes on to say: 

“At the end of the day, I say all this, not for a pat on the back or for a “yay me” moment. I’m hoping that if there is anyone who needed to hear these words, that they have heard them by reading this. No matter what you’re facing in life, you can go out there and make it better. You HAVE to keep pushing. Find something that will keep you going. Find your sanctuary.” 

Tyler plans to continue his health and fitness endeavors by studying nutrition and learning how it works for everyone individually. He attributes a lot of his success to his mindfulness of his food choices and hopes to expand his knowledge even further. He has also recently added HIIT by LAF to his routine and happily reports “I am LOVING it!” 

LA Fitness played a role in his motivation too. There’s just something contagious about the energy of others who are also working hard to achieve their personal goals. Tyler explains: 

I love the familiar faces at my gym. Seeing the same people day in and day out, pushing themselves to their limits to reach their goals helps me keep going. 99% of the people, you never meet, but just seeing their drive on a day to day basis helps keep you going.” 


 

Be Your Own Hero

Tyler has seen his fair share of hard times and knows that other people face similar struggles. His advice? 

“Don’t stop. Whatever you do…don’t stop. There are times it’ll hurt. Keep pushing. Sore? Keep pushing. Tired? Keep pushing. Emotionally drained? Keep pushing. Frustrated? Keep pushing. Never tell yourself that you can’t do something. Get out there and keep pushing. Be your own hero.” 

Do you have an inspirational story you’d like to share with us? Email us at blog@lafitness.com for a chance to be featured in an upcoming post! 


For length and clarity, minor edits – none of which alter the original or intended meaning – have been made to the quotes provided. 

Recommended Reading

5 Winter-Inspired Nice Cream Blends

5 Winter-Inspired Nice Cream Blends

Nice Cream has gained popularity in the health food world over the last few years, and for good reason! As a dairy free, added-sugar free, vegan, and all-natural alternative to ice cream, it’s easy to see why. 

Yes, we know it’s December, but is there ever a wrong time to enjoy nice cream? Besides, there are plenty of holiday foods this time of year that are anything but nice to your healthy eating efforts. It’s not a bad idea to have some healthy sweets in your freezer for the days when baked goods and buttery bread rolls are challenging you to a face-off. 

So, what’s in this magical frozen delight? The answer is fruit! Plain, frozen fruit; typically, with banana as the base ingredient for that craveable creaminess.  

How to Make Your Own Nice Cream 

The one thing better than the taste of fresh fruit in nice cream, is how easy it is to craft your own. There are almost no limitations to what you can create when all you have to do is freeze some fruit and blend it together! Any flavor combination in the world is open to you. 

The How-To Breakdown

  1. Cut up some fresh fruit of your choice into pieces that will easily fit into a standard blender or food processor. We recommend freezing over-ripe bananas whenever possible because adding them is what gets you closer to the creamy texture of real ice cream, but you can leave them out if you prefer.

  2. Pop your fruit pieces into the freezer and wait impatiently for them to freeze. Alternatively, freeze them in advance so they’re ready to go whenever the craving hits.

  3. Toss your frozen fruits into a blender or food processor and hit the magic button. If you like, you can add some sugar-free non-dairy milk for an even smoother texture and an easier blending process.

  4. Scoop your masterpiece into a bowl and top it off with nuts, granola, coconut, dark chocolate crumbles, fresh fruit pieces, or even a drizzle of honey. Don’t forget to freeze the rest (if there’s any left to freeze). 

The process itself is really that simple. Now, depending on how creative you want to get, your flavor profiles can add some extra time and effort.

Here are some fun (and in-season) flavor combinations for you to try with your Nice Cream: 

01.

Pumpkin Pie 

Bananas, pumpkin puree, and some pumpkin spice give you this guilt-free treat. Feel free to add ingredients like Medjool dates for sweetness, and vanilla extract, cinnamon, or nutmeg to add some winter-time flare. Toppings like sunflower seeds or crushed almonds will also go nicely with these warm and spicy flavors. 

02.

Zesty Orange 

Clementines, Mandarins, and Tangerines are in season during the winter months. You may have heard them called by all these names but Clementines and Tangerines are really just classifications of Mandarin oranges. Match the tart orange flavors with some sweet pineapple or even strawberries, blueberries, and bananas to create a party of fruity flavors. 

03.

Apple Cinnamon 

This is a frosty take on the festive classic: apple pie. You may need some non-dairy milk to help the ingredients blend smoothly for this one. Feel free to experiment with the flavors of Flax milk, soymilk, walnut milk, almond milk, and others. All you need to add is banana, apple, cinnamon, and perhaps some vanilla extract to close in on that apple pie flavor. You can also substitute the apples for blueberries or cherries to achieve a different fruit pie profile. 

04.

Banana Pecan

If we’re going for an apple pie flavor, we can’t leave out pecan pie! You’ll follow the same procedure of blending pecans into your frozen bananas, and you can add some dates to mimic the sweetness of caramelization. If you don’t want crunchy bits of pecan, blend them into a “butter” first, the same way you’d blend peanuts to make peanut butter. This will help them blend more smoothly with the rest of your nice cream. 

05.

Cranberry Walnut

Cranberries are also very much in season and they can add a lip-smacking tart to your nice cream. Because of their tartness, it would be a good idea to add some sugar substitute to help sweeten this mix. Other fruits that pair well with cranberry include oranges, apples, peaches, and even pears. Again, blend your walnuts into a paste before adding them into your mixture. You can also add cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves to give it the zing of seasonal spices. 

For more happiness-inducing holiday treats, read our registered dietitian’s article on Nutritious, Mood Boosting Holiday Foods. To learn about fruit, its sugars, and the time of day to eat or avoid it, check out the answer to this reader’s question. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today! 

Dancing and Its Health Benefits

Dancing and Its Health Benefits

Evidence Based

Dancing is not just a form of expression, not just reserved for the artistically inclined, and not as difficult to start as you might think. We invite you to challenge your thoughts of “I can’t do it” or “it’s not for me,” so you too can enjoy the benefits of this versatile form of exercise.  

Dancing extends across the boundaries of physical movement. You can dance for your fitness, for physical therapy, for cognitive therapy, to enjoy a social activity, or to take time alone. Today we will focus on the physical and cognitive benefits of dancing.  

If you already have the dance bug and just want to dive in, browse our website to learn about our many dance style Group Fitness Classes. We host a variety of classes like Belly Dancing, Cardio Jam, Hip Hop, Latin Heat, Zumba, and Yogabeat. Be sure to search by zip code to learn which classes are available at the LA Fitness clubs closest to you.  

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the physical and cognitive benefits of dancing! 

Physical Health Benefits

Muscle Strength

Every move you make as you dance is deliberate; there’s no laziness here. You need to engage your legs and core to keep your body stable, and your back and shoulders to carry your posture. As your muscles learn to move your weight in new ways as you step, lift, drag, kick, and flick to the beat, they will get stronger. This functional strengthening is what promotes better balance and overall posture.1

Bone Strength

You may still be thinking of dance as just another cardio type exercise, and it can be excellent for your heart, but did you know dancing also benefits your bone strength? Think about it this way: your muscles are attached to your bones; and when you strengthen your muscles, it’s like you’re reinforcing the bones.  

One article on The Health Benefits of Dance states that “the side-to-side movements of most dance steps help to strengthen the weight-bearing bones such as the femur, tibia, and fibula.”2 That sounds a lot like the steps you would see in Latin dances like the Cha-Cha-Cha, Merengue, or Salsa. If you’re looking to add some focus on your lower body, our Latin Heat or Zumba classes might be just what you’re looking for! 

Lower Blood Pressure

When it comes to heart health, “dance can be as beneficial as jogging around a track, biking, swimming, or running on the treadmill.”2 We know that cardio is excellent for exercising your heart, and that when you exercise your heart you benefit your whole body. One study confirmed that Zumba participants who had high blood pressure, effectively and significantly lowered their blood pressure after only 2 months of Zumba!3 

Weight Loss

Not only are you benefiting your heart and improving your blood pressure, you are burning calories with every step. Burning calories can help you shed the pounds, especially if you are also mindful of your nutrition.  

Depending on the level of intensity, your range of motion, your physical condition, and more, “the continuous motion of dance… [will allow you to] burn anywhere from 200 to 500 calories during a 1-hr session.”2 

All-Over Toning

Because dancing is a total body exercise, you can expect some total body toning. “Some dance forms,” like Belly Dancing and Hip Hop, “have repetitive movements such as hip drips, figure eights, circles, and shimmies, which can put the lower back and hip joints and ligaments through full range of motion that increases muscle tone and improves posture.”2 Strengthening these particular parts of your body can aid in the prevention of lower back problems.2 

Now that you know about the physical benefits, let’s get into how great dancing is for your brain.  

Cognitive Health Benefits

Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity is your brain’s ability to form and optimize synaptic connections. This basically means that it is capable of growing, adapting, and changing. This is a very good thing because it means your brain can adapt to new situations and recover from old ones. 

Consider that most dancing requires you to learn a specific series of movements in a specific order for a specific amount of time. This prompts your brain to develop new neural pathways to allow this complex learning to take place.  

In fact, research has found that expert dancers have structural differences in their sensorimotor networks and in physical parts of the brain like the hippocampus (the part of brain responsible for emotion, memory, and your autonomic nervous system).1 

Aging and Memory

In general, physical exercise, especially aerobic exercise, has been shown to decrease the risk for neurological disorders, especially for cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s.1 To a lesser extent, there is also evidence to support that physical exercise can reduce your risk for Parkinson’s Disease and Strokes.1,4,5  

Dancing, however, has more benefits for the brain than repetitive physical exercise.6 A study on neuroplasticity in older adults found that, because dance requires constant cognitive and motor learning, it can counteract age-related cognitive decline.4 When it comes to brain health and function, the complexity of dance beats plain physical exercise. 

Coordination

Never get called a clutz again. Dancing can improve your coordination because it, itself, requires a great deal of coordination. Have you ever tried to rub your belly with one hand and tap the top of your head with the other hand? It takes a certain amount of concentration, doesn’t it? 

With dancing, not only do you need to coordinate between the different limbs of your body, but you must do the same between other dancers on the floor, and hone-in on your timing and spatial awareness.7 

Coordination exercises have actually been shown to improve attention and concentration, even more so than simple aerobic exercises.1

Final Thoughts

We know there’s a lot of research here so let us leave you with some simple takeaways: 

  1. Dance is a sustainable form of exercise partly because it’s enjoyable 
  2. It can benefit your body by strengthening your bones and muscles, improve your blood pressure, and help you lose weight 
  3. Learning steps/choreography, and then randomizing those steps, can help your mental acuity 
  4. Dance can decrease your risk for neurological disorders like dementia, Alzheimer’s, and to a lesser extent reduce your risk for Parkinson’s Disease and stroke 
  5. Dancing can help improve your ability to learn, memorize, concentrate, and multitask 

For more on brain health, read our registered dietitian’s article on These 7 Foods That Promote Brain Health. Or, check out her article on The 8 Best Foods for Your Heart. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today! 

Sources

  1. Dhami, Prabhjot, et al. “New Framework for Rehabilitation – Fusion of Cognitive and Physical Rehabilitation: the Hope for Dancing.” Frontiers, Frontiers, 1 Dec. 2014, www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01478/full. 
  2. Alpert, Patricia T. “The Health Benefits of Dance – Patricia T. Alpert, 2011.” SAGE Journals, 2 Dec. 2010, journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1084822310384689. 
  3. Jitesh, S., and Devi Gayatri. “Effect of Zumba Dance on Blood Pressure.” ProQuest, Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, 2016, search.proquest.com/openview/9cf7f1ff907efe2b63e8cf458735228d/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=54977. 
  4. Lossing, Anna, et al. “Dance as a Treatment for Neurological Disorders.” Taylor & Francis, Taylor & Francis Online, 2016, www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17432979.2016.1260055?scroll=top&needAccess=true. 
  5. Earhart, G M. “Dance as Therapy for Individuals with Parkinson Disease.” European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2780534/. 
  6. Muller, Patrick, et al. “Evolution of Neuroplasticity in Response to Physical Activity in Old Age: The Case for Dancing.” Frontiers, Frontiers, 27 Feb. 2017, doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2017.00056. 
  7. Cross, Emily S., and Luca F. Ticini. “Neuroaesthetics and beyond: New Horizons in Applying the Science of the Brain to the Art of Dance.” SpringerLink, Springer Netherlands, 5 Jan. 2011, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11097-010-9190-y. 

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