It Takes Two To Tango – And Other News

by DavalosMcCormack on September 15, 2009

Can you imagine going into your doctor’s office, explaining your problem and having them say “Hmm, take two tango lessons and call me in the morning!” Well, a new study says that might not be as absurd as it sounds – even if it does seem really really absurd!

The International Association of Tango Therapy (IATT) – and I bet you never knew there was such a thing – says that more and more patients around the world are being advised to take up the tango to improve whatever it is ails them, from Parkinson’s disease to phobias or even marital problems. OK, I can see the marital problems bit. If you areĀ plastered up against your partner all that friction and sweat isĀ  bound to help generate some excitement, but phobias and Parkinson’s disease?

But the good thing is that while the folks at the IATT clearly have a vested interest in getting us to buy into what it is they are selling, they also have some science to back up their claims. Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine found that Parkinson’s patients improved their balance when they took tango lessons.

Moreover Italian therapists say they use the tango because of its tight embrace and backward walking to help counsel couples – it builds up a sense of trust I suppose. Plus friction. Never underestimate friction.

And finally British researchers say getting Alzheimer’s patients to focus on learning the eight basic steps of the dance helps them improve their memory.

All that and you get to have a fun workout at the same time. How bad can that be!

Sleep Improves Your Memory

After dancing the night away you will probably be tired, which is great because a good night’s sleep is important in helping keep your memory sharp, and avoid making mistakes.

This study, from Michigan State University, involved giving participants a list of words and then, 12 hours later, asked them to remember and repeat those words. One group was given the words in the morning and asked to repeat them later that night. Another group were given the words in the evening and, after a night’s sleep, asked to repeat them in the morning.

The people who got to sleep on it did best, remembering more of the words than their sleepless counterparts.

Now that might seem like a fun but relatively pointless piece of science, but the researchers point out that memory is a critical element in so much of what we do, from seniors remembering to take their medication in the right amounts at the right time, to students doing well on a test. Getting a good night’s sleep after memorising what you need to learn can help boost your chances of actually remembering it.

You Social Animal You!!

When it comes to boosting your health one of the best ways to do it is not to focus on diet and exercise – though clearly those are important elements – but to develop a healthy social life. Now, I don’t mean going out to parties or bars and clubs every night, but having a strong core group of friends and being part of groups with whom you share interests, anything from chess and books to wine and waterskiing.

A study by researchers at the University of Exeter in the UK, and Queensland in Australia, found that being part of a social group can have a postive impact on your health and sense of well-being.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Pete | The Tango Notebook September 16, 2009 at 1:39 pm

It’s good to see this information AGAIN after writing an article on my blog a few weeks ago. Did you see the video of the improvements Tango made on Parkinson’s patients? Check it out here.

And, no, I had no idea that there was an International Association of Tango Therapy. People can create a society for just about anything these days, eh?

Great post!
Pete | The Tango Notebook

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