Seniors: Dance for Better Energy, Flexibility, Posture, and Happiness

Seniors can improve their energy, flexibility, posture, and achieve a sense of achievement by dancing. Researchers at Australia's Queensland University of Technology and Queensland Ballet also found dancers were happier and had a stronger sense of community and friendship.

The three-month project examined the effects ballet had on the health and well-being of older Australians.

"We weren't surprised by the research findings strongly indicating that ballet participation is considered to be a highly pleasurable activity for active older adults," said Felicity Mandile of Queensland Ballet. However, she was surprised by some of the health effects produced by dancing.

The study, she said, "found that ballet participation may contribute to positive outcomes across various health and well-being categories and promotes a general feeling of well-being."

"The physical benefits of movement and dance on aging bodies is well-documented and our project really reinforces these findings, and additionally highlights the joy and benefits social connections in dance can bring to people's lives," said Professor Gene Moyle from Queensland University of Technology who is also a former professional dancer.

One simple thing you can do is, especially for close distances, choose walking over riding, driving or taking transportation. You can climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator. You can pick exercises that are easy to do at home or outside that you enjoy. When you enjoy the physically activities you choose for yourself, most likely you’ll enjoy them and naturally want to do them. Exercise is about being healthy and having fun at the same time. Also, mixing up your exercises will keep them interesting.

"Some of the participants reported that they found the classes positively euphoric and transformational in the pleasure they felt at being part of such weekly social engagement."

The Australian study isn't the first to show that dancing benefits seniors. A long-term study at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that seniors who took part in brain-stimulating activities such as reading, writing, and doing puzzles, lowered their risk of dementia by as much as 47 percent.

But while the study found no significant reduction in the risk of dementia among those who exercised regularly in activities such as bicycling, swimming, and team sports, one physical activity — ballroom dancing — showed an amazing 67 percent reduction in the risk of developing dementia.

Experts believe it's because dancing combines intense mental and physical activity. "Dancing is a complex activity," said researcher Dr. Joe Verghese of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "You have to remember the steps and how to dance them, you have to move in time with the music, and you have to adapt to the actions of your partner."