Keeping fit and healthy is vital as we age, both for our mental and physical well being, but it can, of course, be more challenging to remain active when our bodies start to feel the pressure of old age. The good news is that recent studies have shown that a great way to thwart any decline is simply to dance.
Thankfully we don’t all have to become budding ballroom dancers or master the Merengue to enjoy and benefit from this excellent form of exercise. It’s absolutely still of benefit to just lose yourself in some great music and shake your booty.
So why is dancing so great? Here are three excellent reasons:
- Regular dancing can help to maintain a healthy weight which in turn keeps us capable of remaining active.
- Dancing is an aerobic exercise and this form of exercise extends our life expectancy because it forces our lungs to work more efficiently and increases our heart rate.
- Our bone density will improve with regular exercise which is great if we are at risk of osteoporosis.
- Our flexibility and muscle tone increases the more we move our bodies.
- Dancing helps with coordination, spatial awareness and balance. All of these things can begin to decrease as we age which in turn can lead to more falls and greater risk of injury.
- Forgetfulness and/or confusion are an irrefutable consequence of ageing, to varying degrees. Dancing can help forestall the decline by encouraging us to remember long forgotten activities.
- Remembering the number of steps in many dance movements keeps our brain functioning efficiently.
- Our motor skills remain active because our brains are being forced into quicker reaction times as we move around.
As well as helping us to remain fit and keep our bodies strong, dancing can also help keep us remain mentally well:
- Exercise releases feel-good endorphins which help to maintain a positive mood.
- Dancing can be great fun and is a form of release where we can simply move around in time to the music without having to worry about formal step sequences.
- Music is known to help to calm people suffering from stress and dancing has equally calming benefits.
- Dancing, particularly for those who danced during their youth, can invoke pleasant memories from the past.
- Dancing with a partner ensures that we still have bodily contact with other human beings. Hugging is great therapy when we are down and dancing is essentially just like hugging in time with the music!
- Attending a dance class or joining in dancing at a day centre etc. is a good way to make new friends and having a strong and wide social network is the best way to stave off depression and loneliness.
It’s a known fact that keeping physically and mentally fit can help older adults maintain their independence and enjoy a healthy lifestyle throughout their later years and dancing can be the perfect way to achieve this. In reality, anyone, young and old alike, can reap the benefits of dance simply by enjoying good music, good company and good old-fashioned fun.