The health benefits associated with dancing for older adults are plentiful and extremely helpful. Even seniors that are not usually big dancers may want to begin taking up the activity for improved overall health. One of the most obvious advantages is the physical exercise it provides, helping increase muscle strength, mobility, and balance. However, there social and mental benefits to be enjoyed as well with regular dance practice and routines.
Dance can be much more than a hobby or fun activity; in many circumstances dance is used as a therapy to alleviate stress and work through emotional trauma. Dance therapy has been employed to help with mood management, disease prevention, depression, eating disorders, and easing muscle tension.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be as serious as all that, it can be implemented into regular routines as a good social activity that happens to come with a very healthy outcome.
Physical Benefits of Dancing for Seniors
As we get older, the body and mind begin to show signs of decline, and lifestyle plays a big role in just how serious the deterioration becomes. Muscle mass starts to decrease sometime after the age of 40, and people that do not engage in regular physical activity will notice a more pronounced effect.
The same can be said about coordination and balance. Decreased muscle strength is directly associated with these two attributes, and as they decline the risk of injuries from falls and accidents increases. This can all pose a threat to mobility and an independent lifestyle. Dancing can help improve coordination and flexibility, improving overall stability to prevent falls.
Dancing also has a positive affect on cardiovascular health, which can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. Regular dancing has also shown to improve posture, gait, responsivity, endurance, and overall motor skills.
One of the best parts is that it doesn’t even really matter what kind of dance you are engaging in, as long as it’s active. For seniors with limited mobility, or chronic pain, a lower impact type of dance is recommended. Also, studies show that older adults that dance socially in groups experience less physical discomfort.
Social Benefits of Dancing for Seniors
Extensive research has been done to demonstrate the health benefits of regular social interaction. Communication is a great way to give the brain a good workout. The whole process of taking in information, processing it, and devising a relevant response is beneficial for cognitive function.
One study done on women over 60 that consistently engaged in group line dancing, reported that these women became more involved in their communities, and experienced more social growth and personal development. Social dancing can have wide reaching effects on behavior, attitude, confidence, self-esteem, and general sense of wellbeing.
Dancing is even known be helpful for seniors with dementia, helping them become more engaged socially and improve cognitive function.
Cognitive Benefits of Dancing for Seniors
Dancing can offer a range of cognitive benefits for older adults, including increased overall brain activity, which stimulates the growth of new brain cells and aids in the formation of neural connections to improve mental sharpness. Scientific studies show that dancing, and exercise in general, stimulates production of a protein known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which acts like a fertilizer for neurons, generating growth and activity.
Dance can also improve attention and focus which are essential for task completion and problem solving. Memorizing dance steps and routines is good way to exercise memory, and then apply it in real time while anticipating and reacting to a partner or group. It gets you thinking one step ahead, which stimulates the area of the brain associated with planning and decision making.
Dancing gets the blood flowing, improving circulation, which means the brain is receiving more of the nutrients and oxygen it requires to function. Music also stimulates various reward centers in the brain which arouse feelings of happiness and wellbeing.
Why is Dancing so Healthy for Seniors?
The reason dancing is such a positive activity for seniors is because it combines a multitude of physical, social, and mental health benefits. Dancing is good for the heart, the mind, the body, and soul. Older adults will be hard pressed to find a better activity with a more comprehensive and diverse range of health advantages.