Senior ladies dancing together outside
Dancing for better health later in life can help prevent the development of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, improve balance and flexibility and as a result reduce the chance of falls or injury, and positively impact mental health. 

A lot of different challenges come with age – physical, emotional, mental, social. The list goes on, and unfortunately it’s only getting longer with time. However, there is something that can help in all of those aspects of life. Whether it’s salsa, tango, or cha-cha, it sounds like dancing is the answer to all of our worries.

There’s no denying the fact that we face more and more changes both in our physical and mental abilities every day. The good news is that we don’t have to sit around idly – we can certainly do something about it!

If you have avidly avoided sports all your life, then we’re sorry to break the news to you, but research has found that exercise is the source of (a long and healthy) life. Exercise comes in many forms with many different benefits, but one thing is sure: any exercise is better than no exercise.

However, one exercise does stand out as superior: dancing.

Dance has always had its benefits for people of all age, but it's recently proving to be an effective way to keep both the mind and the body active approaching your golden years. Dancing regularly presents many health advantages for seniors, ranging from the physical, through social, to mental. So why not give it a whirl (and a shake and a spin)?

Dancing for your body with Eileen Kramer – Dance promotes physical health, fights imbalance and improves coordination

When it comes to our bodies, it’s evident that exercise helps – it keeps us fit and toned, builds and upholds our muscles, and aids us in remaining flexible and coordinated. Ageing undoes these slowly but surely; however, dancing can counteract this decline.

Research suggests that dancing improves strength and muscle function in older adults. It also increases balance and flexibility, which in turn leads to better stability and fewer injuries.

Regardless of the type of dance, participants in a different survey found that regular dancing can improve overall physical health in older adults. Moving your body regularly to awesome songs isn’t just fun, it’s also good for you!

We don’t have to go too far for an example. Eileen Kramer is Australia’s (if not the world’s) oldest dancer at the age of 104. She still has the agility and coordination to perform her own choreographies, and she continues to show the world what dancing can help you achieve.

Eileen Kramer dancing on the beach side

Her video clip performance for Lacey Cole’s song Nephilim’s Lament is further proof that dancing can help you keep physically capable for up to 104 years. And, might we add, she shows absolutely no signs of stopping!

Eileen will be performing and giving a book signing at this year's BOLD Festival. To find out more about how you can see her incredible performance live, check out the festival's Facebook page here. 

Dancing for your brain with Feather Thompson – Dance improves cognitive ability and helps ward off dementia

As opposed to other recreational sports and exercises, dancing stands out as especially effective in improving cognitive ability for seniors. But why is that?

Study has found that contemporary dance in particular has cognitive benefits due to its emphasis on improvisation, rather than memorising specific sets of movement. Experts believe that dancing is beneficial for our brains because it combines cardiovascular exercise with split-second decision making – this in turn taxes our neural network, forcing it to create new pathways. This can help ward off dementia and keep the mind sharp much longer.

Dancing can also improve your mental health – the music, the people, and the fun of it are likely to elicit positive emotive responses from just about anyone.

Feather Thompson believes that dancing can help reinvent yourself – in the best possible way. After decades of tap dancing, she decided she didn’t want to do structured dance anymore. At 82, she can be found out and about on Friday nights in Byron Bay, dancing the night away with her many friends.

She believes that we shouldn’t be defined by our age, and dance helps her in exactly that.

To watch her video, follow the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_zCp8JyfSw

Dancing with friends through the Virtual Senior Centre – Dance introduces you to like-minded people and improves your social life significantly

Your body and your mind aren’t the only things benefitting from this fun exercise. Many people become isolated as the years go by, and participating in dance classes can bring you closer to like-minded individuals again. Plenty of new friends are made through dance!

A research asked thirty women over 60 about the impact dance has had on their lives. The majority agreed that dancing helped them become more involved in their communities, encouraged them to participate in charity and group activities, and provided a space for self-expression and personal development. As a result, they believed that their social life and mental health significantly improved.

Lady with ipad participating in an online group session

Even if your mobility prevents you from going to local dance classes, there are various online communities just for that! The Virtual Senior Centre hosts sessions ranging from book clubs through to craft workshops all the way to dance classes. The latter accommodate for all abilities, and they can be joined from the comfort of your home.

Programs like the Virtual Senior Centre create an online community by bringing together others just like you in a virtual setting – and having fun! To find out more, follow the link: https://www.feroscare.com.au/virtual-senior-centre

One of the biggest selling points of dancing is that it’s fun! You can pick any exercise to keep you fit and sharp in your golden years, but if it’s a struggle and you don’t enjoy doing it, then truth is, you will give it up eventually. Dancing succeeds where other exercises might fail because it is fun and healthy at the same time. So swap your slippers for dancing shoes and dance your way to better health!

Watch all Fearless Films documentaries, including Feather’s, on YouTube - Fearless Season 1

Want to find out what other exercises are recommended above a certain age? Click here to read our article “6 alternative ways for seniors to stay active”.

 

The material in this article is intended for general education and information, and is a guide only. It is not intended to replace professional advice from your GP or other medical professional. Please seek appropriate advice.

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