Many specialists recommend dancing to encourage mature adults to move and feel good. Everyone can enjoy the benefits of dance including healthy mature adults, those dealing with chronic conditions, and those needing care.
Dancing provides physical, mental, and social benefits. It’s fun and enhances our creativity.
We may think of dancing as a standing activity. But haven’t you caught yourself dancing away sitting in your car as a particular song comes on the radio? Dancing in wheelchairs, with walkers, sitting in a chair, and standing are all possible and fun.
Sometimes exercise, which is one of the four pillars of active aging, can be boring and not much fun. Dancing provides physical and mental health benefits and enhances creative expression.
Using dance to explore your own story is one of the unique benefits of this type of exercise. Also, it’s fun and generates joy.
Jessica Conneely is a professional dancer who started teaching dance classes for mature adults. The unique aspect of dance as an exercise is the way that it enhances creativity. Jessica encourages participants to use creative expression to build their own stories through dance.
Dancers can use a structured set of movements or improvise their own movement. They can immerse themselves in movement, make a dance of it, and add emotion. With a variety of music styles, tempos, etc., movements come naturally.
To encourage social interaction and creativity, Jessica has participants tell their stories. The stories build connections in the group and engagement among the dancers. Giving people time to tell their story, listening and honoring each of them, leads to social interaction.
The main benefits of exercise are increased strength and endurance and improved balance and flexibility.
Dance improves all these areas, especially balance and flexibility. Depending on the tempo, dancing can also improve muscle tone and lung function.
Important mental benefits include increased cognitive performance and re-discovering physical movement memories. Dance then can be beneficial along the health spectrum.
Dancing encourages proprioception, or the awareness of the body’s position as it moves. Parkinson’s disease impairs this brain function and can thus lead to imbalance and falls.
But falls can be prevented with technique. Dancing requires you to concentrate on the part of the body you are moving and the direction you are moving it in. This kind of combined mental and physical exercise can counter Parkinson’s effects.
Using motion from other areas to create a dance routine can be beneficial for both movement and memory enhancement.
For those with dementia, using movements that are specific for other areas of life, like sports or gardening, challenges their memory and encourages their creativity.
In dementia, movement can trigger people’s memories – like one always knows how to ride a bike regardless of how long it has been since the last such experience.
Everyone can enjoy the benefits of dance – from healthy adults, to those who need special care. It’s fun, enhances our creativity, and encourages us to move our bodies to our own rhythm and tempo. Let’s dance!
How often do you dance? Do you go to dance classes? Which style is your favorite? What do you think about dancing your story? Please share your thoughts and let’s have a conversation!
Tags Healthy Aging