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The Health Benefits of Dance For Seniors

Updated: Apr 23

Dancing is not only fun, it's a great way to stay active as we age. Staying active is especially important to aging adults in order to maintain mobility, cognitive function and other age-related conditions. Due to the increasing senior population, the use of dance as a therapy for aging adults is the subject of many current and past scientific studies and you may be surprised at how beneficial getting your groove on can be.

We've put together a list of our 5 favorite health benefits associated with dancing.

  1. PROTECTS AGAINST DEMENTIA According to a 21-year study of adults aged 75 and older by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in NYC, dance was found to be the ONLY physical activity that offered protection against dementia, with a 76% risk reduction in individuals who danced frequently. Dance can be seen as a "triple-threat" against dementia, as it involves physical, mental and social stimulation, the gold standard recommendation for reducing the risk of dementia.

  2. IMPROVES BALANCE Poor balance is a major contributor to falls in aging adults and falls or fall related injuries is the leading cause of hospitalization in people over 65. Falls can result in head trauma, broken bones and may lead to hospitalization, future immobility or even death. According to a systemic review of 18 studies, the NIH reported that dance, regardless of it's style, can significantly improve muscular strength, endurance and balance in older adults.

  3. BETTER EMOTIONAL HEALTH An analysis of 27 studies published in The Arts in Psychotherapy in 2004 linked Dance and Dance/Movement Therapy to a reduction in anxiety and depression, improved mood, less aggressiveness and an overall improved quality of life in institutionalized seniors.

  4. REDUCTION IN JOINT PAIN AND STIFFNESS Joint pain and stiffness in knees, hips and back are common in aging adults and are a leading cause of the prolific use of pain medications. A St. Louis University study conducted over 12 weeks looked at low impact dance program participants with an average age of 80 years old. Their conclusion? Study participants were able to decrease the use of pain medications by 39% and felt they could move more easily.

  5. CARDIOVASCULAR PROTECTION We've long heard of the heart health benefits of exercises such as walking and cycling. A study published in the journal Circulation concluded that people with stable chronic heart failure "may derive the same aerobic health advantages from learning how to waltz as they would from more traditional forms of cardiovascular exercises." And because dancing can be done anywhere without specialized equipment, it is easily accessible to seniors looking to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and maintain a heart healthy weight.

So, the results are in and they all point to one conclusion....getting jiggy with it can improve your health and slow the aging process. Go ahead and put some swing in your step!

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