According to recent research, dancing may be one of the best ways to stay healthy as you age. Volunteers who danced regularly had a 73 percent lower risk of disability than those who did not dance. It’s a great physical workout that builds balance and muscle strength, and improves endurance and cognition.
Do you love to dance Do not stop!
Are you the type of guy who dances around the kitchen while cooking when a good song comes on the radio? Or maybe when you’re at a wedding and the band starts playing, you’ll be the first on the dance floor. If you love music and can’t keep your body from moving in time with it, you should encourage yourself to keep this behavior and make it a habit. According to recent research, dancing may be one of the best ways to stay healthy as you age.
The study, conducted at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology in Japan, found that dancing can reduce the risk of disability later in life and help people stay healthier and more active. These results are based on a study of 1,003 elderly Japanese women who had no problems performing typical activities of daily living at the beginning of the trial.
Research on the health benefits of dancing
The subjects were asked about their regular activity and answered questions whether they participate in 16 specific types of exercises. They were then followed over a period of eight years and examined for cases of impaired ability to perform one or more tasks of daily living. These activities included walking, eating, bathing, getting dressed and using a toilet independently.
During the study period, 130 participants were found to be disabled in at least one area. However, when investigators compared the health records to the exercise routines reported by women, they found that staying up in some way – including undeniably useful workouts like walking, yoga, and calisthenics – helped reduce the likelihood of disability.
But far and wide, the biggest difference was associated with dancing. Volunteers who danced regularly had a 73 percent lower risk of disability than those who did not dance. And this association persisted even after the researchers checked for possible influencing factors.
Why dancing is the health winner of all physical activities
Why might dancing be key to better maintaining our ability to perform everyday tasks in old age? The answer is not clear, but investigators theorize that this could be related to the variety of skills required to dance. It’s a great physical workout that builds balance, muscle strength, and improves endurance. At the same time, dancing has a mental aspect that can be just as important. It requires the adaptability to change movements along with the rhythm and a partner, concentration to correctly execute certain movements, and memory skills to remember the specifics of the choreography.
Regarding the cognitive benefits of dancing, a new study at the Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine in China showed that mind-body activities such as dancing, tai chi, and yoga can strengthen certain mental abilities. The focus was on global insight, which includes planning, decision-making and other aspects of the executive function. It was found that just one to two hours of mind-body activity per week improves cognition, even in those who experienced some decline.
While the studies outlined above have not proven cause and effect, both offer evidence of the far-reaching benefits of dancing. And they’re in line with previous research, such as a 2011 study at University Hospitals in Geneva, Switzerland, which showed that exercising with music improved balance in the elderly.
So, if you enjoy dancing, make a commitment to making it part of your practice routine. If we find activities that we really enjoy participating in, we are much more likely to stick with them long term and reap the benefits. If you haven’t spent a lot of time dancing since second grade ballet for beginners, or maybe never, it may be worth giving it a try. Many dance schools offer courses for adults in all genres. So read through the offers and choose one that seems the most attractive. Many classes can be offered online so you can dance safely in your own home. So, put on your dancing shoes and be on your way!