Dance your way to health

Here at AEH Retirement, it's no secret that we are strong advocates of keeping active as you transition into retirement living, whether in your own home or in a retirement community near you. While taking a much-deserved step back from a strenuous working life is to be applauded, it doesn't mean that regular exercise should take a back seat.

We have talked about various activities for keeping you on your feet, from taking a few laps in the local pool, to pulling on the boxing gloves for some light cardio – we've even recently covered why you should consider working out with a friend. However, if you've never been a big fan of the gym, or the notion of "working out" seems foreign, there is another option to support your fitness – dancing. 

This light-hearted, enjoyable form of physical activity allows you to get your groove on to the music while getting your heart pumping. Here are a few of the benefits you can look forward to. 

How much dancing do I need to do? 

According to the Seniors Information Service of South Australia, 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day can be enough to experience some of the positive side effects. These include improved balance and blood pressure, as well as helping to strengthen bones and muscles. 

Furthermore, in addition to supporting cardiovascular health, regular exercise can help to manage diabetes, according to the National Institutes of Health. As if this wasn't enough, it appears that dancing in particular can help to minimise the risk of falling in older people. 

Could dancing be just the ticket for maintaining your fitness?Could dancing be just the ticket for maintaining your fitness?

Does dancing help to reduce falls?

The research was carried out by the University of Missouri (MU), who arranged for residents from one of the local retirement communities to attend 18 dance sessions over a period of two months. 

The program consisted of The Lebed Method (TLM), meaning that the steps, choreographed to music, were low-impact, making it ideal to a range of participants' needs. By the time the program came to an end, the residents responded favourably to the sessions, even expressing a desire to continue further. 

"We found that many seniors are eager to participate and continue to come back after attending sessions because they really enjoy it," said Dr Jean Krampe, a Registered Nurse from the Sinclair School of Nursing.

In addition, the MU findings revealed that TLM dancing wasn't just enjoyable, but it also helped to improve seniors' gait and balance – two key factors in fall prevention. 

"Among seniors that stand up and move during sessions, we found that dance therapy can increase their walking speed and balance, which are two major risk factors for falling," Dr Krampe added.