There are very good reasons why the TV show “Dancing with the Stars” is so popular. Sure, competition is intriguing but watching professionals dance is beautiful. It makes for an uplifting, happy and often deeply moving experience. If just watching it is joyful than it stands to reason that participating it will be even more uplifting. And if bringing joy to the lives of seniors is an important and constructive goal, then dance seems like a good strategy.
Sure enough, researchers have discovered that men and women with mood disorders benefitted from dance. When they participated in a two-week tango dance program, they reported feeling less depressed, less anxious, and slept better.
But what if tango isn’t a dance of choice? That’s ok. It turns out that salsa significantly increases strength and balance in adults. It also has a high adherence rate – meaning that it is one of those exercises that people stick to. Statistics show that more than 92 percent of the seniors who started a salsa program ended up completing it.
Can’t sell Latin dance to the senior? Well, there are more dance styles than that. Waltzing has been proven to improve heart health. People who have chronic heart failure have shown improvement whe
n they waltzed, benefitting from the gentle movements and aerobic benefits of the dance. In fact, the waltz has shown aerobic benefits similar to walking and biking.
Here’s the “biggy” – dancing appears to defend against dementia. Researchers have found that when compared to other activities like doing crossword puzzles, reading, playing golf or biking, dancing seems to pose the best chance of helping to stave off dementia. According to researchers who conducted a 21 year study of aging adults, those who “danced regularly had a 76 percent reduced risk for developing dementia.”
Experts theorize that dancing can tell dementia to take a hike because it forces the brain to combine cardiovascular exercise with split-second decision making. That taxes the neural network, forcing it to create new pathways.
The knee bone is connected the leg bone, and even if both are sore they can dance. In fact, dancing may eliminate the need for medication for knee and hip pain. Researchers concluded after a 12-week, low-impact dance program, that participants aged 80 years old were able to decrease the amount of pain medication they were taking by 39 percent. They were also to walk around more easily.
This is great news. LivHOME professionals like to pursue fun activities with senior clients, helping them to stay mobile and enjoy life. We know that seniors and their LivHOME companions can “kick up their heels” and laugh while knowing that they are improving their health and staving off the onset of dementia.