Welcome to our first newsletter for 2023,
    We hope you are all refreshed and relaxed after the Xmas break, and enthused for the classes resuming in February. Most start back from 30 th January, but a few don't start until the following week. These delayed classes are all of Liz's classes, and Peter's Tuesday and Wednesday classes. Covid rules still stand at this stage for our classes.
We have spent much of the time catching up with the new Grandson (Michael) and family, and caravanning with friends.
Information below on:
Xmas Social
Class Changes
Food for Thought...
Our thoughts are with our dancers and their families along the Murray, and hope they and their possessions are safe from the floods.
See you on the dance floor,
Liz & Peter Heath and the Instructor Team

Xmas Social

    Thanks to those that came along to our final event for the Year. It was well attended, and we made good use of the back hall, enabling split floors to be walked through without interference from the other dancers.
    Thanks especially to the instructors that helped out in both of the halls, enabling Liz and I to mingle a little more than normal. We hope you all enjoyed yourselves.
    We are currently in the process of setting the dates for this Years socials. They have not been confirmed yet, so are not locked in, but the plan is:
Sunday 19 th March - 1.30 pm-5.00 pm
Sunday 30 th April - 1.30 pm-5.00 pm
Saturday 27 th May - 1.30 pm-5.00 pm (or Sunday if unavailable)
Sunday 9 th July - 1.30 pm-5.00 pm
Sunday 20 th Aug - 1.30 pm-5.00 pm
Sunday 12 th November - 1.30 pm-5.00 pm
Sunday 10 th December - 1.30 pm-5.00 pm
We also have our 30 th Birthday Social at Goodwood on Saturday 23 rd September (Liz is already setting up the decorations). The theme is going to be "Spring" (no not "boing", try flowers).


    Most classes will start back the same as last Year. same bat time, same bat channel LOL.
    Our Friday night Mainstream class at Ingle Farm is one that is changing. It will be transferring to a Monday night instead. Friday night tends to cause intermittent attendance due to its proximity to the weekend. Hopefully this will enable the class to get a new lease of life.

Food for Thought

    One of my dancers Petra loaned me a book to read a while ago when I was talking about the apparent effects of Line Dancing on the brain that we have seen while teaching classes over the years. The book is called "The Brain that Changes Itself" by Norman Doidge. I finally got the opportunity to read it while in the caravan vegging out.
    It is not likely everyone's cup of tea being a non-fiction publication, but I found it fascinating. It documents a series of case studies of patients that had brain injuries or mental issues through mental trauma, stroke, accident, old age, or from birth defects and how their brains adapted to their injuries or issues to enable them to get a reasonably normal life back. It also explained the science behind these "miracles".
    By a strange quirk of fate, when we got home from the van, I was flicking through the TV channels and found a program on the ABC called "Our Brain" which consists of 4 one hour episodes. It also was fascinating, and complimented the content of the book. If you are interested, check it out soon, as it has been on the iView app for 7 months, so may be removed soon.
    The main theme of both was the saying "Use it or Lose it". Most people think of this when considering physical exercise, but it is just as relevant, if not more so, for mental "exercise" as well.
    I thought I might paraphrase the parts of the book that I found relevant to our situation, and adding the context of line dancing to the content.
    The theme of the book revolves around a new science called "Neuroplasticity" that has emerged in the last decade or so. Unlike historical assumptions, the brain has been found not to have specific fixed parts associated with different functions, but to be malleable (plastic) and able to adapt to changing circumstances, if you encourage it and train it appropriately.
    On Page 88, it talks about learning a new language in order to improve general thinking ability. Crosswords only allow you to access and use prior knowledge, but learning the terminology for the line dance choreography fits the bill well, and you get to use it immediately and put it into practice. On the same page referring to mobility activities such as different forms of dance, it mentions "Just doing the dances you learned years ago (such as old style dancing) won't help your brain's motor cortex to stay in shape. To keep the mind alive requires learning something truly new with intense focus. That is what will allow you to both lay down new memories and have a system that can easily access and preserve the older ones". We are continuously adding new dances to our repertoire, and also revising the older dances to keep the memories fresh.
    On page 156, the author refers to an activity called "massed practice". "Training should be done in increments; and work should be concentrated into a short time, which is found to be more effective that long term but less frequent training".
    Page 200 discusses the difference between "Tortoise and Hare" learning styles. Cramming information rapidly into the brain will help short term, but wont keep new memories. Slow paced learning is better at exercising the long term memory.
    Page 204 talks about how "experts" handle memory different to regular people. "Experts don't store the answers, but they do store key facts and strategies that help them get the answers, and they have immediate access to them, as though they were in short term memory".
    Page 205 has an interesting result of a study that found that imagining doing exercise will actually build up the muscles (22% improvement) almost as much as actually doing the exercise (30% improvement).
    Page 210 discusses the problems of changing habits, both good and bad. It uses the comparison between a sled sliding down a snow slope. The more times it goes down the same path, the harder it is to get out of the ruts and take a new path. To set a new path takes effort over many tries to change bad habits into good. Don't give up or you will never change.
    Page 242 talks about how stress, depression and trauma releases chemicals into the brain that kills brain cells, potentially permanently unless the issue is treated urgently.
    Page 249 continues the theme with a 90 Year old doctor explaining his lifestyle for keeping a long and active life. "There are many things that go on that can affect me that are beyond my control. I can't control them, only how I react to them." this allows him to be less anxious and nervous than most people.
    Page 252 discusses an experiment on aging mice. A group were given an enriched environment, (toys, activities etc) compared to another group. When analyzed when they died, the enriched group had a 15% increase in the size of their brain.
Page 255 discusses a concept of "cognitive reserve". This is the developing of brain function to produce a "souped up" brain that will be more able to cope with decline in functionality with aging. Sort of like building a water reservoir to cope with periods of drought. 'The more we participate in mentally stimulating activities, the less likely we are to get Alzheimer's disease or Dementia. Not all activities are equal in this regard. Those that involve genuine concentration such as reading and dancing are associated with a lower risk for dementia. Dancing, which requires learning new moves, is both physically and mentally challenging and requires much concentration.
Page 257 states: "A cognitively rich physical activity such as learning new dances will probably help ward off balance problems and have the added benefit of being social, which also preserves brain health.
    There is heaps more in there that is interesting, but it all points to Line Dancing, especially the way we have it structured, with layered difficulties, learned terminology, social activities and regular classes, is an excellent way to keep your brain plasticity and enable many years of alertness. It also assures reduced potential mental issues, such as depression and dementia.

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