Aside from being a fun, and social opportunity, dancing can also provide a healthy alternative to spending a mundane hour on the treadmill proving fitness can, and should be enjoyable. While the gym has its rightful place in one’s exercise regime, dance is particularly beneficial for older adults to improve cognitive, and physical health. Don’t be intimidated by the fancy footwork displayed on Dancing With the Stars, because anyone can learn to sharpen their moves. Yes, even those who claim to have two left feet. Start with some ballroom dancing basics and you’ll be excited to develop your new found passion from there!
Ballroom dance has its origins in Europe, evolving from traditional folk dancing, to familiar modern ballroom styles such as the Fox-Trot, Waltz, and sultry Latin inspired Tango. Anyone who’s ever watched an Austrian Viennese Waltz can tell you the fluidity, and beauty of this dance style is truly mesmerizing.
Studies are showing dance to improve balance, muscle strength, and gait in older adults. Dancing requires the mind and body to work cohesively in order to execute choreographed steps that may reduce the risk of falls according to an article by Reuters Health. In a study by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, a group of 59 nursing home residents were divided into groups where 30 participated in a 12 week dance program, with the other 29 remaining sedentary. At the end of the study, the group who engaged in dance showed improved balance, and better distribution of weight from one foot to another, thus reducing the risk of falls.
The Centers For Disease Control recommends that healthy seniors participate in 30 minutes of daily exercise with at least two hours devoted to aerobic activity. Aerobic exercise contributes to healthy aging – it is designed to get your blood pumping, and getting out on the dance floor is the perfect way to squeeze in some cardio without realizing it’s a workout! Just think of how impressed everyone will be the next time you’re at a party, and you show off your impressive dance moves. Most towns offer dance classes to teach a variety of styles from the Two-Step to the Cuban Mambo. So why not save your tennis shoes for the court, and shine up your dance shoes instead?