Benefits of Dance for Older People
Dancing is a past time enjoyed by many both young and old across the world on a daily basis. Whether it is dancing whilst listening to music whilst doing the housework or attending a weekly salsa class the beauty of dance is that it is really for everyone and can be enjoyed at any time.
However we would like to highlight the benefits of dance particularly for older adults.
Promotes physical activity
Older people are less likely to exercise however those who partake in regular physical activity are more likely to live longer as they maintain their balance, strength gait and cardiovascular health. Dance is great for older adults as it is a low level exercise that works all of the body from head to toe and encourages moving through a space, gets the heart pumping and provides the opportunity to gently move and stretch.
Promotes cognitive function
Older people typically experience a progressive decline in cognitive ability, memory and reaction time as they age. Learning dance steps and sequences can be mentally demanding and is a skill that needs to be developed but dancers are known to maximise cognitive function and muscle memory through practice. Dance also challenges reaction time and perception because of the quick thinking that is required to remember what step comes next.
Promotes Social Inclusion
Older people are especially vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation. Dance is a social activity where people meet weekly and form friendships. The best dance classes are the ones where the dancers go and have a coffee and a chat afterwards reducing the feeling of loneliness and isolation.
Improves mental wellbeing
Older people are more vulnerable to experiencing mental health problems, with depression affecting around 22% of men and 28% of women aged 65 years and over. Dance can help to reduce stress, increases levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin, and helps to develop new neural connections, especially in regions involved in executive function, long-term memory, and spatial recognition. Dance which is a meaningful activity can also encourage individuals to focus on activity for a sustained period and help individuals feel a sense of achievement when they have learnt the steps to a challenging routine.
Older people may not get the opportunity to express their creativity and perhaps are no longer self-aware. Dancing can be powerful energy release that can release tension and provide you with the opportunity to explore your own range of movement and feelings. If you choose to dance to music then there are the added benefits of having songs as a stimulus which can also enhance your mood and also perhaps encourage reminisce.
So dust off your dancing shoes and Keep Dancing.
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