Reducing risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and dementia isn't always easy, but with persistence and dedication to eating right and exercising daily it's definitely possible. When it comes to older adults searching for the interest and motivation to workout everyday, a little creativity is required, and that is where dance comes into play!
There are loads of opportunities for seniors to find themselves dancing including:
– Taking a dance-inspired fitness class like Zumba or Jazzercise
– Joining a social dance club
– Learning new dance moves, like taking a ballroom dancing class
– Attending an event or fundraiser with music and dancing
– Joining a community-organized flash mob
– Participating in a charity dance-a-thon (or dance marathon)
– Live streaming instructional dance fitness videos at home
– Playing a dance-based video game (like Just Dance)
Check out these five reasons why dance is a go-to fitness motivator (and health booster) for seniors:
Generates Low-impact Aerobic Exercise
Dancing provides a low-impact aerobic exercise that's great for seniors. Like playing tennis, hiking, cycling, or swimming, dancing is easier on the joints while still a comprehensive workout for the heart and other muscles. Dancing gets your heart rate up and increases blood circulation which is critical for strengthening the cardiovascular system to prevent heart disease. It is also a great way to burn calories and keep off the pounds, lowering risk for obesity and diabetes.
Hones Balance and Coordination
The movement, positions, and partner (or group) work all used in dance are great skill refiners of flexibility, balance, and coordination. A critical determinant in whether you remain mobile and independent, balance is a key skill required in preventing seniors from experiencing debilitating falls. Dancing strengthens all those priority functions while raising confidence and esteem to boot.
Provides Social Interaction
One of the best parts of dancing is the social component that brings many generations, not just seniors, together. Engaging with other people in activity and conversation has been shown to help stimulate cognitive functions as well as build and strengthen neurons and neural pathways in the brain. This boost in brain health can have a positive impact in helping prevent the cognitive degeneration associated with Alzheimer's and dementia down the line.
Pain is an all too familiar companion for some older adults, whether it's arthritis inflammation or low back strain. Multiples studies have revealed that low-impact dancing helps to relieve stiffness, especially in the knees and hips, and that overtime, can loosen joints and stretch and strengthen muscles which aids pain reduction. Wearing an orthotic brace or sleeve can help keep some seniors on the dance floor by offering extra compression and support to vulnerable joints
Offers a Mental Workout
Whether it's tapping into your artistic side or the fact that it requires closely listening to music, dance is a mental workout worth sweating for. In addition, some studies have shown that regular dancing helps improve mood and reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression in seniors. The New England Journal of Medicine shared in a 2003 report that among leisure activities, dancing (as well as board games, reading, and playing musical instruments) was associated with reduced risk of dementia.
Possibly the most unique aspect to dancing as fitness is that it is often so fun and engaging, you don't even realize you're exercising. So what are you waiting for? Get up and hit the dance floor, if not for your health, today!