Dancing: A Way Towards Fewer Falls and Better Physical Function

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Remember the handsome Cliff Richard crooning “Put on your dancing shoes, and dance away your blues” in the 1963 hit movie Dancing Shoes? He hit the bullseye about all the good things that dancing does to our minds and bodies. Whether you are young or old, dance is therapeutic.

Dancing for seniors is a fantastic way towards better mobility and improved balance that result in fewer falls and injuries. According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injury and death in seniors. Seniors often suffer from poor balance and instability as the bones and muscles weaken due to aging. It makes routine activities difficult and increases the chances of falls. Hence, fall prevention for older adults is something that you should not overlook. 

Let’s delve into how dancing exercise for seniors helps reduce falls and improve physical function.

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Table Of Content

Benefits of Dancing for Seniors

Any dance makes the brain and body work together. A study concluded that “dance, regardless of its style, can significantly improve muscular strength and endurance, balance, and other aspects of functional fitness in older adults.” Hence, you might want to include a dance-based mind-motor activity into your exercise routine and reap its rich benefits. However, remember to consult your doctor before you begin any new activity. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of dancing for seniors.

  • Improves Mental Health
  • A study published in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement revealed that a dancing exercise for seniors positively affected the brain and helped enhance cognition. Dance requires some level of mind and body coordination and memorizing the steps learned before. It improves brain connections. Moreover, it is one of the many fun physical activities for seniors that releases mood-enhancing hormones like serotonin and endorphins. Dance also reduces depressive feelings thanks to the socializing it involves. The sense of belonging to a like-minded group engaged in the same activity helps seniors feel less isolated. 

  • Improves Balance
  • With age, as mobility reduces, older adults find it challenging to carry out simple everyday tasks like getting in and out of bed. Most physical movements require balance and stability. Hence, it is crucial to include a simple mobility workout for sSeniors in the daily routine. In addition, seniors can slowly regain balance or stop its deterioration with the right mobility aids, like a step stool, and mind-motor movements introduced by activities like a dance. In fact, a study in the Medical Express reported a 31% reduction in falls and a 37% reduction in fall risk for seniors who engaged in dance exercise. 

  • Maintaining a Social Life
  • Social isolation can cause depression among older adults. However, dancing for seniors is a non-competitive group activity. Thus, dance classes become hubs of socializing and making friends over shared interests. The feeling of belonging to a group of like-minded people doing the same activity boosts the morale and confidence of the elderly. Further, it provides them with an opportunity to meet new people and maintain their social lives.

     

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  • Maintaining Health and Fitness Levels
  • Regular physical activity is the gold standard for maintaining good health and fitness, especially as you age. The CDC recommends 30 minutes of moderate physical activity for older adults 5 days a week, which can significantly improve balance in seniors. Dancing is a great way to burn calories and deal with problems like obesity. It’s an aerobic activity that boosts heart health, reduces the effects of diabetes, and helps with pain management. Moreover, a European study examined the impact of exercise dance for seniors and found that it supports lower-body functioning in previously sedentary and even frail older adults. 

  • Maintaining Control
  • Seniors often feel that as they become more and more dependent on their caregivers, they lose control over their lives. Engaging in a dancing exercise for seniors brings control back in their lives. Whether choosing a dance style or controlling body movements, dance is a confidence-boosting activity. 

  • Increasing Independence
  • We have seen how dancing for seniors improves mental, physical, and social health. It is all interrelated and ultimately leads to fewer falls and injuries. Improved overall wellness is key to building confidence to go about your daily lives independently.

     

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    Final Thoughts

    Whether Salsa moves your soul, your feet tap to the rhythm of Line Dancing, or you prefer the calming movements of Tai-Chi, dance is a therapy that strengthens the mind and the body. However, remember to consult your medical practitioner before beginning any new activity and use suitable exercise equipment for seniors. Staying active is the best way to improve mobility and prevent falls. So, what’s stopping you? Put on your dancing shoes!

     

    FAQs

    How Do Balance Exercises Prevent People from Falling?

    Seniors are prone to falls mainly because of deteriorating bones, muscle loss, vision impairment, or poor joint flexibility. Balance exercises focus on strengthening the muscles and bones. The movements also improve flexibility to regain the range of motion of the joints. Carrying out coordinated movements in balance workouts, like sit-to-stand or chair squats and chair yoga, improves spatial cognition. 

     

    How Does Dancing Help the Elderly?

    • Low impact dancing exercise for seniors boosts physical health. It’s an aerobic workout beneficial for the heart, muscles, and bones. 
    • It improves coordination and helps in improving the stability of the body and reducing falls.  
    • The music and social interactions and memorizing steps boost cognition and mental health. 
    • It increases the confidence and morale of seniors and provides a feeling of control and independence in their lives. 

    What Are Some Ways to Teach Elderly Patients on How to Prevent Falls?

    Falls usually happen due to the following reasons:

    • Restricted mobility in seniors due to poor physical health and sedentary lifestyle
    • Vision impairment
    • Home hazards like clutter, broken thresholds, throw rugs, and slippery floors
    • Lack of assistive devices such as bed step stools, bathtub steps, and grab bars
    • Poor lighting

    By addressing these issues, it is possible to help elderly patients minimize their risk of falls and injury. 

     

    How Can Seniors Improve Their Balance?

    Seniors can improve balance by engaging in regular physical activity like stability and balance workouts, dancing, chair yoga, or Tai Chi. These activities strengthen the muscles, reduce joint pains and inflammation, improve coordination and spatial awareness, and boost mental wellbeing.

    Vince Baiera

     

    Vince Baiera is the founder of step2health, a mobility aids and wellness company for older adults. He is a former ICU Nurse of the Cleveland Clinic and Duke University Hospital in the Cardiac ICU. With years of working on the frontlines, Vince noticed the struggles of older adults and people with mobility issues that became an impediment for both patients and their caretakers. He then designed and created the patented product, Step2Bed (and its variants) that helps seniors and those with mobility issues safely get in and out of bed. His philosophy concerning aging is to plan ahead and start with simple home and life modifications to avoid being overwhelmed at retirement.

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