Here’s How to Dance Your Way to Better Health
Falls in the elderly pose a serious peril to health, resulting in injuries that lead to disability and death. According to dance scientist Dr. Emma Redding, ballroom dancing can reduce the risk. She is recommending dance classes to seniors because the activity increases ankle and core strength, benefits that improve balance and help prevent falls.
As we age, we acquire a higher risk of falling due to several factors. Our muscles weaken and our vision deteriorates. Side effects of medications can also play a role.
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Redding advocates the slow, structured dances, such as the tango, instead of a fast, unstructured dance like salsa. Slow dances involve more physical contact, which gives dance partners the support needed to help maintain balance. The feel of a partner’s hand on the shoulder or around the waist is especially valuable to those who haven’t been touched in months, she explains.
Why Dancing Helps Prevent Falls
Prior to giving a talk at Cheltenham Science Festival in England, Redding told the Daily Mail: “[In] dancing, you take physical risks you would not on your own. You shift your weight from side to side, from front to back, as you would not do when walking.
“This helps with ankle and core stability and makes people much more confident when moving in everyday life. The postural alignment is very important in preventing falls in older people and could help keep them safe.”
Redding’s views about dancing are backed by science. A 2009 review published in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity found dancing could significantly improve the physical capabilities of older adults. Moreover, in a 2014 study published in Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Brazilian researchers discovered that seniors who engaged in a half-hour of ballroom dancing three times per week for three months had better balance and fewer falls.
What Other Health Benefits Does Dancing Have for the Elderly?
Ballroom dancing is a uniquely beneficial way of exercising, as it presents multiple advantages. The activity relieves loneliness. It burns six calories per minute, which is helpful to the elderly, who generally don’t get the 150 minutes per week of exercise that doctors advise. Studies show dancing helps protect against dementia, as well as reduces stress, anxiety and depression. Research also suggests it may help control the involuntary movements of Parkinson’s disease.
Finally, in a 2009 study from Queen’s University Belfast, Dr. Jonathan Skinner found dancing has an anti-aging benefit. He said, “I have found that social dancing leads to a continued engagement with life — past, present, and future — and holds the promise for successful ageing. It contributes to the longevity of the dancers, giving them something to enjoy and focus upon – to live for. It alleviates social isolation and quite literally helps take away the aches and pains associated with older age.
“In addition to this, and especially in Northern Ireland, dancing brings people together across communities, creating solidarity, tolerance and understanding.”
So go ahead and tango, waltz or foxtrot your way to better balance. Preventing falls will never seem so much fun. Dancing will also provide the added benefits of improved physical, mental and emotional health, along with increased longevity.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.