Posted on Jun 01, 2014, 9 p.m.
About an hour of ballroom dancing 3 days a week, for 3 months, resulted in a 50% improvement in balance and fall reduction.
Postural balance is important for the avoidance of falls – and subsequent potential fractures and hospitalization. Remaining sedentary further accelerates the loss of strength and balance. Eliane Gomes da Silva Borges, from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), and colleagues enrolled 59 elderly nursing home residents to either a program of ballroom dancing (dances included the foxtrot, waltz, rumba, swing, samba and bolero); or control (no dance or other exercise). The researchers interviewed the participants and examined their medical records to see how many times they had fallen in the three months before the study period began, and measured the participants’ balance using a special platform. For the next 12 weeks, the dancing group met for 50-minute sessions (with a warm-up and relaxation period) on alternating days, three times a week. At the end of the study period, the team observed that the balance score among the dance program participants improved markedly, whereas the control group’s score had worsened slightly. As for falls, members of each group had averaged a little over five falls in the three months preceding the study. During the 12-week study period, those in the sedentary group had about the same rate of falls, but among the dance program subjects there was only a single fall. Writing that: “sedentary elderly people living in long-term institutions can improve their balance via a ballroom dancing program,” the study authors submit that: “This activity improved balance and reduced the number of falls in this elderly population.”
Eliane Gomes da Silva Borges, Rodrigo Gomes de Souza Vale, Samaria Ali Cader, Silvania Leal, Francisco Miguel, Carlos Soares Pernambuco, Estrlio H.M. Dantas. “Postural balance and falls in elderly nursing home residents enrolled in a ballroom dancing program.” Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 5 April 2014.