It can be hard to imagine older people hopping and bopping along to the latest pop songs. Aren’t they supposed to be playing bingo or watching soap operas? Though it may look pretty awkward, the health benefits of dancing for seniors range from therapy to improving their physical health.
As you age, your body loses muscle mass, coordination and balance. This makes you more prone to falling and injuring yourself in the course of everyday activities. In addition as you become older you lose bone density and become prone to diseases such as osteoporosis. Added to this, your joints’ range of motion decreases. This unfortunately puts you at risk of ailments such as osteoarthritis unless you do something to change this. Dancing can help counteract this decline.
There are many benefits associated with dancing styles for all ages. But unlike younger people, senior’s risk for injury can be greater when trying to lift weights, run or cycle. When dancing, they can limit themselves to what they are capable of, stop when they’re tired and – most importantly – have fun!
Benefits of dancing for the elderly
In older adults, dancing improves strength and the functioning of muscles. It also helps to increase balance and flexibility, which helps with stability. (As older adults are at an increased risk of falls, owing to upsets in balance, this benefit is crucial.)
Dancing can also improve your cardiovascular health, which decreases your chances of developing heart disease. It also improves posture, reaction times and motor performance.
Not only does dancing improve physical health, but it increases healthy behaviour. Seniors are more likely to take their medication, eat a nutritious diet and engage in social activities. Group dancing classes can also improve positive feelings, behaviour and communication.
According to experts, dancing increases brain activity, helping you form new neural connections and think with more speed and agility. This is because dancing necessitates learning a sequence of steps – especially with dances such as the waltz or the foxtrot – and the dance can’t be performed properly unless these steps are done in sequence.
Dancing can improve concentration and the ability to control shifts in attention. Think about it logically: in order to get a sequence of steps right in a particular dance requires an immense amount of concentration and this will vary according to how complicated the particular dance is.
Experts have also found that seniors with Parkinson’s disease who participate in dancing classes can improve their physical abilities, like walking backwards.
Healing and preventing illness
One of the things older people tend to struggle with is a weaker immune system. Paired with a lack of balance and coordination, this can be lethal as it can lead to injury that doesn’t heal well or takes a protracted period of time to heal.
Dancing, however, improves your immune system. It increases the amount of endorphins that are flowing through your body and helps you to feel better about yourself. This increases your sense of well-being and assists you with feeling better about what is happening in your life.
The increased flow of endorphins that happen as a result of dancing can decrease the time it takes for a wound to heal. A healthy body can also better fight off infection and makes recovery from illness or injury easier. Experts say it can also delay or prevent diseases like diabetes, cancer, stroke, heart disease and osteoporosis.
The good news is that it is never too late for seniors to start taking part in a regular exercise routine. However, it can be quite daunting for them to take up normal exercise programmes like lifting weights and squatting. This is especially if older people have not engaged in such activities in their youth. This is why dancing is such a great choice for the elderly. Not only does it put less strain on their bodies, but it is also a lot more fun than other forms of exercise!