Dance Your Way to Good Health

Physical activity is good for us regardless of age. The key is finding enjoyable activities that are challenging (for body and brain). Dancing can be that activity for many of us and especially if you find yourself in the “golden years.”

Dancing is a great way to get moving, meet people and improve your overall health. It can be enjoyed by anyone, at any age and even by those with physical limitations. It’s fun, improves muscle tone and coordination, and has a wonderful social aspect to it. And, if you don’t think dancing is exercise or athletic enough, watch a ballroom competition sometime! Professional dancers are athletes with amazing grace, coordination and stamina.

Two of the most important benefits of dancing, especially for seniors, are improved balance and a stronger mind. It’s common knowledge that as we age, we tend to lose some stability, which then affects confidence. Seniors who dance have better balance and use longer strides when walking. This stronger “walking pattern” is what helps prevent falls. So, if you’re more stable when walking and dancing, you’re going to have more confidence in your overall movements, reducing the fear of falling.

Dancing requires coordination between brain, feet and arms. Seniors who dance have a quicker reaction time, and better motor and memory skills. Dancing requires learning and memorizing steps and patterns, plus coordinating them with music. This type of memory work is important to reduce the risk of developing dementia.

In addition to the above, dancing also provides other benefits that might not be so obvious.

  • Bone density–Using your muscles to dance can improve bone density, like weight lifting. You’re supporting your own weight and getting the benefit of a resistance activity.
  • Posture–Holding a dance frame or position for any amount of time will get your head up and your back straight. Dancers walk and sit taller.
  • Stamina–Dancing regularly will definitely increase your stamina as moving to a three-minute song gets your heart pumping!
  • Stress/tension–All aerobic activity helps reduce stress. Dancing produces endorphins, making you feel joyful during and after the activity.

As always, seniors (and others with physical limitations) should consult their doctor before beginning a new exercise program. Happily, dancing can be adapted to everyone’s uniqueness and abilities so don’t let your current physical condition or limitations stop you from trying.

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