Dance your way to Wellness <Refer to Brookdale - Senior Living Solutions>
Legend has it that Socrates learned to dance when he was seventy because he felt that an essential part of him had been neglected. Dancing allows a form of expression that little else can duplicate. It can bring about joy and laughter if only for the moment. It brings generations together and connects partners nonverbally. As an almost automatic response to music, dance has been used throughout history as a form of celebration and ritual for many occasions.
A 2003 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who took part in ballroom dancing at least twice a week had a lower incidence of dementia. Whatever the type of dancing, benefits abound. Like other moderate, low-impact, weight bearing activities, such as walking, dancing can help:
• Strengthen bones and muscles
• Tone your entire body
• Improve your posture and balance, which can prevent falls
• Increase your stamina and flexibility
• Reduce stress and tension and bring joy
• Build confidence
• Provide social interaction
• Help prevent illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, and depression
In keeping with the Movement is Medicine™ theme, getting your daily 30 minutes of activity by dancing can make it fun. Dancing can even be done in a chair. And of course, you can always dance in your heart.
Beneficial types of dancing
Ballroom dancing reduces dementia risk
Ballroom dancing has been shown to be beneficial in its ability to reduce the risk of dementia according to the “Leisure Activity” study conducted in New York in 2003. While the exact reasons for this finding are not known, speculation is that in addition to being an aerobic activity, dancing uses “brain power” to memorize steps and also has a social component which may contribute to the benefit for the brain by boosting mood.
Argentine tango improves mobility for Parkinson’s disease
A study at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine in 2007 showed Argentine tango was better at improving the mobility of Parkinson’s disease sufferers than an exercise class[ (a later study showed similar benefits from Tai Chi). Because of the level of interest a permanent tango class was set upafter the study ended.
Waltz improves function and emotional well being for heart failure patients
Dancing improves ability to function and quality of life among chronic heart failure patients and may be a good alternative to other aerobic exercises, researchers reported at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2006.
“Our research suggests that dancing is a new choice of exercise training for patients with heart failure,” said Romualdo Belardinelli, M.D., lead author of the study. “This is good news, because if we want patients to take part in lifelong aerobic exercise at least three times a week, it should be something that’s fun and makes them want to continue.”
In a previous study Belardinelli and colleagues found that dance — specifically, slow and fast waltz — was safe and improved functional capacity and quality of life for people who suffered from heart disease and previous heart attacks.
“We repeated the study in patients with chronic heart failure, and the results were identical,” he said. “The amount of work during a session of dance is very similar to that of a session of traditional aerobic exercise.”
“The results indicate that dancing improves functional capacity and quality of life – particularly when it came to questions about emotions – among patients who underwent the dance protocol, while there was no improvement in these areas at eight weeks in the patients who did not exercise,” Belardinelli said.
The dancing group’s arteries also had greater capacity than those of sedentary individuals to dilate (become more elastic) due to the effect of dancing on the inner part of the arterial wall (the endothelium). The endothelium is stimulated by exercise to produce favorable substances, including nitric oxide, a gas that dilates and protects the arteries from atherosclerosis. Another improvement was that the cardiac fibers became more elastic.
Quality of life was “surprisingly more significantly” improved in the dancing group versus the exercise group. Lower scores meant fewer problems interfering with a good quality of life and, among the dancers, scores dropped from an average of 56 to 41. For the exercisers, scores dropped from an average of 58 to 48.
No one had to withdraw from the study because of adverse events, indicating that dancing is safe, researchers said.
“All these improvements have been demonstrated by standard exercise training based on stationary cycling or treadmill exercise,” Belardinelli said. “Thus, dancing is able to induce the same physiological benefits as standard aerobic exercise in patients with chronic heart failure.”
Movement is Medicine®
Guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association recommend 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity on most days of the week and strength exercises two days per week in addition to flexibility and balance exercises on a regular basis. Dancing can provide most of those (with the exception of strength exercises) and has the added benefit of being a fun, joy filled activity. If you are not able to dance in the tradition sense, you can adapt dance steps to do in the chair and still reap many of the benefits.
Whatever form of movement you choose, be sure to do it on a regular basis. Seek the guidance of a health care professional if you have been sedentary before embarking on a new program.
We tailor each program to meet the specific needs of each Center. Contact us to learn more about the variety of options to individualize the Artson Dancesport Senior Program to your Center’s needs.