Physical activity in seniors can up the risk of several health problems, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes. Activities like dance, which have a strong social component, can be a particularly useful activities for seniors wishing to fight the effects of sedentarism in an enjoyable manner. If you are over 65, and you have always enjoyed moving your body to musical beats, or you have never danced before, and you’d like to give it a try, know that you can reap many rewards. We take you through a few of the most important physical and mental health benefits of dance.
Dancing Boosts Strength and Flexibility
Dancing increases muscular strength and function, and it also improves flexibility and balance. All these qualities are key in seniors, since when they are poor, the result is a higher likelihood of trips and falls. The statistics speak for themselves: around three million older adults are treated in emergency departments annually because of a fall-related injury, as reported by the CDC. Seniors have a host of dedicated group classes to choose from, ranging from ballet for older learners to hip-hop, jazz, and ballroom dancing.
In addition to benefit seniors physically, dance classes also help them build a healthy social network they can count on for companionship and support.
Dance Can Improve Seniors’ Gait and Balance
A 2010 study by researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia has found that dancing for seniors is about so much more than fun. It also improves their balance and gait, which are also key if falls are to be avoided. This activity has an additional bonus: because it is so much fun, seniors feel more motivated to stick to it. Today, dance-based programs like Healthy Steps are used to improve range of motion and boost the mood of seniors in recovery for a host of health issues—including cancer.
Dance vs Hip and Knee Pain
Older adults can address problems like hip and knee pain through dance, as found in a study on 34 residents of a senior apartment complex. The study showed that after dancing regularly for several months, participants reported less pain, and they were also able to walk faster. As dated by the researchers, making even a small improvement in one’s walking speed can make a big difference for seniors. It can ensure they get to the other side of the road more quickly and help them deflect any obstacles that may arise when they are out walking.
Expressing Yourself Through Dance
Research published in the Journal of Women Aging has found that women aged over 60 who took part in regular dance classes enjoyed many mental benefits. Their social circle grew, they took part in more charitable work, and they became more involved as a whole in their local communities. The researchers found that for these women, dance was an important means of self-expression and personal development.
Dance is a great way for seniors to feel more positive about life. It can also enable them to form part of a supportive social circle and boos their sense of community. It also has many physical benefits, including improved walking speed, strength, and flexibility.