How Dancing Can Improve Your Physical and Mental Well-Being After 60
Have you ever been listening to music as you’re fixing dinner or doing dishes, and found yourself doing the “two-step” or just “movin’ to the groove”? Well, whatever you called it, you were doing something potentially very beneficial for your body and mind.
Dance, Dance, Dance!
It has long been known that exercise, in particular endurance and flexibility training, is great for our physical and mental well-being, especially as we move into our later years.
Recent research by Kathrin Rehfeld shows that dancing is even more effective in slowing down, or even counteracting, both mental and physical age-related decline.
In particular, both balance and memory were significantly improved through dance. The researchers attributed this to the ongoing learning dancing requires, especially in terms of constantly changing routines, steps, arm movements, speed and rhythms.
Benefits of Complex Choreography
It’s no big surprise then that dancers like Carmen De Lavallade, now 86, who began dancing at 16, basically never stopped. As recently as 2016, she was performing live in As I Remember It, a one-woman show.
Meet an “AMAZING!” who continues to dazzle audiences with her beauty and art!
CARMEN DE LAVALLADE, 86, will receive the…
Oh, the skill, talent and memory such a feat requires! It has to do with keeping one’s body sufficiently flexible and strong to be a ballerina, and on top of it, having sufficient mental acumen and memory to remember complex choreography.
Ms. Lavallade will receive the Kennedy Center Honors Award this year for her lifetime of contributions to American culture. This includes her gifted work with Alvin Ailey’s dance company as a principal guest performer and as a prima ballerina at the Met, to her choreographic brilliance for many productions, counting her position as choreographer at the Yale School of Drama.
But you don’t have to be a prima ballerina to benefit from dance – far from it. Line dancing is a fun and easy form of dance. According to her doctor, line dancing saved the 80-year-old Nancy Sullivan after she underwent open heart surgery last year.
Meet an “AMAZING!” who two-steps her way into joy and health!
NANCY SULLIVAN, 80, began teaching line dancing after she…
Her physician credits Nancy’s remarkable recovery to the physical movements of line dancing, that provide exercise, and to her having to remember the steps, which helped mentally.
Nancy began teaching line dancing 20 years ago after her retirement from the working world. For the past 15 years she has been teaching at a local Senior Center, much to the joy of her senior students.
Dance, No Matter What Shape You’re In
You may think, “Yeah, well, that’s great for women who’re flexible and in good shape – I’m not.” But that’s far from the truth.
When I took square-dancing, the first thing the instructor told us was, “If you can walk, you can square dance.” True! Many of the senior ladies and gents who “do-si-do-ed” with me were far from agile and had arthritic knees and hips, if not downright replaced joints.
Any form of dance can be done at any age and in whatever shape you may be, as long as you have a teacher who understands your challenges and is willing to work with them.
Social Benefits of Dancing
But here’s the thing. Dance is a social art. It’s something you usually do either as a two-some, or in groups. Even prima ballerinas take class alongside a group of other ballerinas. It is well known that being part of a supportive group or social environment is great for our well-being and longevity.
So, along with the mental and physical advantages of dance, plus the fun of it, there is the undeniable benefit of a sport done non-competitively in a social setting.
What could be better?
What type of music gets you up and dancing? Do you consider yourself a good dancer or does dancing make you self-conscious? How does dancing make your feel? Please share your thoughts below!
Dr. Noelle Nelson is a psychologist, consultant and speaker. She is passionate about personal growth and happiness. She’s authored over a dozen books including “Happy Healthy… Dead: Why What You Think You Know About Aging Is Wrong and How To Get It Right.” Please visit Noelle’s website.