Seniors wanting to improve their physical and mental health might not need to bother with conventional exercises like jogging or going to the gym. Instead, they might be better off hitting the dance floor. A recent study has found that the best exercise for slowing age-related mental and physical decline is dancing.
The study, published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, found seniors who routinely do physical exercise can reverse the signs of ageing in the brain, and dancing as a form of exercise is the most effective. The study found both dancing and endurance training increase the area of the brain which declines with age but only dancing led to improvements in balance.
All of us at the Elite Akademy physiotherapy clinic welcome this study because it’s yet more proof that moving and staying active is good for you. The exercise benefits for seniors cannot be overstated.
We are not surprised at the findings because dancing has always had many physical benefits.
Dancing has potential to provide a whole-body workout and is good for maintaining flexibility in your joints. It can work and tone your muscles, build core strength, and is also a good cardio exercise.
Dancing also encourages good posture, which is increasingly important for seniors as we often see back pain and other issues linked to poor posture.
Regular movement through exercise including dancing doesn’t just help you feel good, it helps prevent common ailments such as back pain, neck pain and arthritic symptoms.
The best part about dancing is it has one advantage over many exercises – most people find it enjoyable. And we know that if you enjoy an exercise you are more likely to keep at it, and to get the most from it. You will find it more fulfilling and you will look forward to your next session.
But what are some tips for ensuring your dance experience is a happy one? There may be some risks for seniors who haven’t done much recent exercise, so to avoid injury we recommend starting slowly and building your fitness gradually. This is a good principle for any exercise, and is the same for dancing.
Once you are in a routine, try not to overdo it. We often see injuries from people who push too hard. While dancing may sound low impact there is still potential to strain muscles, or for joints and ligaments to become inflamed.
Stretching and warming-up properly beforehand may help. Regular massage keeps your body in good shape.
Finally, it’s important to recover properly. This will depend on the intensity of dance you are doing. If it’s medium-to-high-intensity dancing, you may need a day off between sessions. If it’s low intensity, you should be able to dance every day.
We have long advised seniors to exercise, now we’ll encourage them to bust a move!