For older adults that don’t lead an overly active lifestyle, the mere thought of physical exercise can cause pain and distress. However physical exercise is absolutely crucial to healthy aging. If the idea of going to the gym to work out is not an appealing prospect, then maybe dancing could be a good way to get in a little physical activity.
Range of Benefits
But dancing does not just offer physical health benefits, it can also incorporate social and mental perks into the mix. Regular social activity is another critical aspect of maintaining good overall health. Lack of companionable interaction can lead to social isolation, depression, and a host of other detrimental health conditions. Social exchanges are good for sustaining high levels of cognitive function, keeping the brain active and sharp. Dancing can also provide other mental benefits, due the memory work, planning, and integration that learning new dance steps and routines involves.
Range of Styles
Another huge benefit of dancing for seniors is that it can be done by people with a range of fitness levels and interests. Whatever type of dancing you choose, it can be an enormous benefit to your overall health. Simple dance steps can be enjoyed by seniors struggling with mobility, and can even be turned into a regular social event. Some popular opportunities for beginners may include ballroom dancing, square dancing, salsa, and zumba, all to be taken at your own pace.
Advantages of Dancing for Seniors
There are many advantages for improving and maintaining health that come as result of regular dance lessons, practices, and routines.
Some of the main benefits include:
- Improving strength, mobility, and balance
- Good for heart and cardiovascular health
- Reduces muscle pain and joint stiffness
- Minimizes stress, anxiety, and depression
Improving Strength, Mobility, and Balance
Many older adults have balance and mobility issues, which can lead to feelings of instability and increased risk of injury for falls. This can also have the bigger effect of compromising independent living. Several types of dance can help improve mobility and balance, while strengthening the muscles.
One study exploring the effects of dance on strength and balance, focused on the health benefits of salsa dancing. If you have never tried salsa dancing, it may seem a bit intense for people with mobility issues, but the results were encouraging. In the end, 92% of the seniors that started the 8-week dance program, completed it and reported improved mobility and balance and a renewed commitment to physical exercise.
Good for Heart and Cardiovascular Health
Regular cardiovascular exercise is essential for maintaining good heart health and preventing cardiovascular disease. A study from the health journal Circulation, declares that older adults can get the same cardiovascular benefits from dance as they would through traditional cardio exercises like walking or cycling. A great benefit of choosing dance for your exercise routine is that it can be done basically anywhere, with no special equipment or particular location needed. All you need is some music, knowledge of the steps, and the will to practice.
Regularly practicing dance routines can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, maintain a healthy body weight, and protect the heart from cardiovascular problems.
Reduces Muscle Pain and Joint Stiffness
A high percentage of seniors suffer from chronic inflammation that often results in joint and muscle stiffness. Knee and hip issues are highly prevalent among older adults. Research into relieving chronic joint and muscle pain showed that low impact dancing routines can offer comfort and improved mobility. After 12-weeks of a low intensity dance program, the participants with an average age of 80, reported being able to reduce the amount of pain medication they were taking for their stiff joints and muscles. They were also able to move around more freely and easily, helping to maintain an independent lifestyle.
Minimizes Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
Dancing has been found to have a positive effect on people with mood disorders. A study in Australia showed that older adults battling anxiety and depression, improved their mood levels and experienced a reduction in stress through dancing. Just a two-week program involving tango lessons showed significant improvements, due to the social and physical benefits of the activity.
The potential health benefits of routine dancing for seniors are tremendous. The physical, social, and mental aspects make dance one of the best overall health practices for seniors to boost independence, mobility, balance, mood, and overall wellness.