Dance classes can be fun and a great way to socialize, but did you know they can actually make you healthier too? That's right; according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) dancing can make a significant improvement in your muscle strength, endurance, and balance. It has many other benefits, too!
Physical health benefits
Seniors who dance have better posture, greater flexibility, more balance, and quicker reaction time than before they began their dance lessons. In fact, dancing can be as good as formal exercise. Because dancing gives you better stability you're less likely to suffer a fall, so you'll be less prone to injuries. One study showed after a 12 week dance instruction dancers over the age of 80 years old reported a 39 percent reduction in pain medication as well as being able to walk and move much easier.
Social and mental benefits of dancing
Dancing can improve your emotional well being, too. Because it's an excellent way to socialize dancing improves your communications, your sense of well-being, and your sense of community as it boosts your positive feelings. Dancing paves the way for personal development and self-expression and encourages seniors to participate more in community and group activities. One study found that seniors with mood disorders who took a two-week tango class had reductions in stress, insomnia, anxiety, and depression.
Cognitive benefits of dancing as you age
While there aren't a lot of completed studies on the subject, some research is showing that dancing helps you form new neural connections in the brain, which basically means you can think faster. Dancing may improve your concentration, too, and help control shifts in attention. Because a new dance step involves a lot of learning and memorizing your brain gets a workout too, and one study showed brain scans of dance class members had less deterioration than seniors who participated in the brisk walking or stretching and balance training exercise groups. A long-term study by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine showed regular dancers had a 76 percent lower risk for developing dementia.
No matter what shape you're in, dance classes can help you feel better and move easier. Research has shown dance has advantages for those with asthma, heart disease, dementia, and Parkinson's disease. Check with your doctor, polish your shoes, and kick up your heels to a healthier life!