Exercise is important at every stage of life, but for seniors, it can significantly improve quality of life by improving balance and even cognitive health. No matter how old you are, find the activity you enjoy.
Because, really, who wants exercise to feel like drudgery? If you don’t, then consider dance as a better option for getting active. Laden with twirls and swooshes, dance comes off as fun.
Here, we’ll highlight what makes dance beneficial and unique, some popular styles of dance to consider, and then how to find instruction nearby.
Dance Benefits: More Than You’d Expect
The perks of dance are many. As with any form of exercise, particularly if you’ve been less active in recent years, be sure to consult with your doctor before getting started.
Here are the biggest benefits from dance:
- Cognitive: Dancing is a multifaceted activity that engages more than just your body. You must learn the steps, which fires off synapsis and associations in your brain.
Since dancing involves music, too, your brain is doing more work at a subtle level. Listening to music with its varied structures, sounds, and rhythms calls on your brain to process and make sense of what you hear.
- Cardio: Music triggers hormones that raise your pleasure sensors enough to turn into happy feet. This means that you naturally get a cardio workout that you hardly notice.
- Flexible and Mobile: Maybe you’ve heard the adage, “someone can’t chew gum and walk at the same time,” meaning they can’t do two things at once. For seniors, the ability to multi-task while on their feet does become more of a challenge over time.
Then, poor balance leads to falls.
By consistently engaging in dance, you become reacquainted with thinking fast on your feet—simply by working to keep your chasey in motion to the music.
Per S. News, researchers found a 31% reduction in falls and a 37% reduction in fall risk for those aged 65 and older when reviewing clinical trials on “dance-based mind-motor activities” from around the world.
- Creative: When you dance, you are also interpreting the music and expressing yourself through movement. You are an artist on your feet. Go ahead and allow yourself to channel a bit of Fred Astaire while you shimmy and sway. It’s good for your brain and spirit.
- Social: As humans, we all need some level of human contact. And dancing is often a social affair! Even if you go for some form of line dancing rather than ballroom, you are among people doing an activity that everyone can enjoy. Being social is good for your mind, your body, and most importantly your sense of wellbeing.
Styles of Dance and Where to Find Instruction
Whether you have prior dance experience or not, and even if you can’t get up on your feet, there is dance that will work for you!
The essential component of dancing is to get your body moving to music and to engage your muscles and your mind. Here, we feature styles of dance you can explore:
- Line dancing – Popular with country and western enthusiasts, this style of dancing involves groups gathering in lines and performing the same moves as a unit. There is something euphoric about people moving in unison!
- Ballroom dancing – Formal movement by couples that include dance styles like the waltz, cha-cha, rumba, foxtrot and many others.
- Jazzercise – This is touted as exercise, but really, it’s about moving to the music of jazz. If you love this type of music, you’ll be fooled into the fun of it rather than feeling you’re doing a workout.
- Freeform – Let your dance creative flag fly! This is literally for everyone because you move as you feel the music.
- Chair dancing – Also called seat dancing, this is moving to music while seated. You’d be surprised just how much cardio you can get from moving your arms and torso to rhythms while you sit!
- Ballet – This is a dance that is precise and highly formalized for steps and gestures, and brings big benefits with all-encompassing movement of the body.
- Folk dance – This could be dance that reflects traditional customs of specific places of origin.
- Clogging or tap – Use your feet like instruments as they clack and clomp to music. Clogging is stamping your feet to music, and it originated from folk dance in the United States. Tap dancing is not just about moving your feet, but also about creating rhythms with taps on special shoes. You become part of the music, in a sense.
Where to Find Dance Instruction
The most obvious place people will find dance instruction is at dance studios. Arthur Murray franchised studios began in 1912 and can be found all over the U.S. and even in other parts of the world. They offer group and couples dancing for every level.
For those interested in ballet, studios are a good source for classes, and the Dallas/Fort Worth area has many that offer lessons to the public.
Many community centers offer dance classes, too, particularly for line dancing, seated dancing, and folk dancing. A quick internet search for any of these dance styles along with “near me” will show you places that provide dance.
Don’t be shy to admit you’re a senior, either, or acknowledge your novice level as you search! Many programs for older adults are catered specifically to you and at affordable or free rates, too.
Dance to Your Health
Staying active is good for you in mind and body. The most important payoff is that you’ll feel better. Dance allows you to step out of your everyday thoughts and be in the moment of pleasure, to just experience your life.
Do your homework as to the style or two you’d like to try and search for resources near you. Remember to take small but consistent steps into dance and the benefits will follow. Be sure to consult with your physician, and then get out there and move your feet!