eMEMBERSHIP  LOGIN

Research shows that social dancing offers health benefits for seniors

Posted on April 15, 2009, 2:20 p.m. in Aging Exercise Longevity and Age Management
 

Jonathan Skinner, Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the School of History and Anthropology at Queen's University Belfast, participated in a transatlantic study on social dancing produced for the Changing Aging Partnership (CAP). The study involved older people throughout Northern Ireland, Blackpool and Sacramento in the United States. Through his research, he found numerous social, mental and physical benefits. His findings also suggest that social dancing helps prevent illness and can help seniors counteract the effects of aging. "I have found that social dancing leads to a continued engagement with life - past, present, and future - and holds the promise for successful ageing," says Dr. Skinner. "It contributes to the longevity of the dancers, giving them something to enjoy and focus upon - to live for. And it alleviates social isolation and quite literally helps take away the aches and pains associated with older age."

Participants in the study said that they looked forward to their dance sessions because they gave them something to enjoy and a chance to socialize with others. One study participant, Sarah, says that she has no doubt that social dancing offers many health benefits, including improving her agility. "My daughters brought me down to the ice rink. I have to say, after years of dancing on a Ballroom floor, I was very impressed and skating has great flow and speed. I've been doing it for 12 years now. We do the rumba, quickstep, foxtrot and tango. My instructor even wanted me to compete. My friends have commented that my energy is overwhelming, ‘what's the secret?' they ask, and I just say ‘keep dancing'."

According to Dr. Skinner, social dancing can bring people from different communities together. As he notes, parts of the study took place in Northern Ireland, where tension among neighborhoods is still an issue. Social dancing gives people the opportunity to reach across communities and barriers, creating tolerance, understanding and community - all of which can contribute to better physical, emotional and mental health for seniors.

This study is the seventh piece of research conducted by CAP, which was established in December 2005 to improve the quality of life for seniors. Along with other organizations with interests in this field, CAP is driven to be a strong, informed voice that challenges attitudes and approaches to aging. Its goal is "to empower older people to transform how they are viewed by sections within our society. To realize this, the program will develop a holistic agenda that recognizes the multiple realities of older people's lives alongside issues traditionally associated with older people such as health and social care, economic independence and community safety." 

News Release: Dance your way to successful aging    www.sciencedaily.com  April 10, 2009

News Release: Dancing for healthy old age  www.healthypages.co.uk 

  

Health Headlines MORE »

The amount of choline needed by people varies significantly and is dependent upon their gender, life stage, race and ethnicity.
People who develop diabetes and high blood pressure in middle-age are at increased risk of brain damage and problems with thinking skills later in life.
Currently available drugs may help women at high risk of breast and ovarian cancers avoid the need for radical preventive surgery.
People who experience chronic sleep disturbances may be at risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease at an earlier age.
Bariatric surgery can dramatically reduce an obese person's risk of all-cause mortality and nearly halve their risk of heart attack and stroke.
Compounds in peaches may inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells and their ability to spread.
Older people who have above-average muscle mass also have a significantly lower risk of dying from all-causes.
Chemotherapy may accelerate molecular aging to the equivalent to 15-years of normal aging.
Long after compulsory schooling ends, education continues to enhance cognitive functions.
A self-rated poor level of fitness in a person’s 50s may predict onset of dementia within the next three decades.