Monday, April 9, 2018

Dance Your Way to Happiness and Good Health

A new study from Australia’s Queensland University partnered with the Queensland Ballet to provide 10 ballet classes for seniors over three months. At the end of the program participants had better posture, improved flexibility, higher energy, and a greater sense of achievement. Happiness, friendship, and sense of community also increased.

A second study from the University of Illinois at Chicago had older-adult participants attend Latin dance classes twice weekly for four months. Various styles of dance from merengue, bachata, salsa, and cha cha cha were taught and choreography increased as the program progressed. At the end of the study participants were walking faster and showed improved physical fitness which may reduce heart disease risk.

Twice weekly dance classes for five months resulted in improvements in balance, gait, and gognitive performance for participants with traumatic brain injury and stroke in one older study from American Dance Therapy Association.

A literature review of 18 studies found evidence that older adults can significantly improve strength and flexibility, aerobic power, lower body muscle endurance, balance, gait, and agility through dance. Dance might also improve muscle power, bone-mineral content, and reduce falls.

Health benefits of exercise have been well documented, however the new Queensland study highlights how exercise through dance can also improve social connections and happiness in aging populations. Participants reported transformational feelings of happiness and positivity which is especially important since depression is common in adults over 65 years of age.

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