Senior citizens can dance their way to fitness

Steve Carlton  |  August 5, 2013

As people age, their bones, joints and muscles begin to weaken gradually. Some elderly people develop conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis that make some movements painful or difficult, which can result in decreased physical activity. This can lead to further health problems. To some senior citizens, the very notion of getting up and dancing may seem counterintuitive or even downright impossible, but with support and encouragement, dancing can have a range of health and other benefits.

Keep it simple

You may think that dancing involves performing elaborate or flamboyant moves in a passionate tango, or gliding gracefully across a crowded ballroom floor in a romantic waltz. If you're up to these kind of 'Strictly Come Dancing' moves, well good for you. But these classic dances are not the only way for older people to enjoy moving to music. Even simple dances can promote blood flow, strengthen joints and stretch muscles, all of which are important for a healthy lifestyle after retirement.

Listening and dancing to music can also help stave off the effects of mental decline in senior citizens. Many elderly people find that listening to wartime or other old songs helps them to reconnect with their memories, and reminisce with other people about their experiences. Learning and remembering new dance moves is also an excellent way for elderly people to improve their memories.

Elderly people who used to live alone after the passing of their spouse may find dancing to be an ideal way to meet new people and enjoy classic songs and music from yesteryear. Some senior citizens enjoy the social aspects of dancing as much, or even more than, the actual dancing itself. This kind of socialising is perfect for people who have just moved into nursing homes, and many retirement villages hold regular events where residents can dance and meet new people.

Staying fit

Most GPs agree that getting even moderate exercise on a regular basis is good for the heart, and this can be crucial for elderly people, including those who are at risk of developing heart disease. Over time and with regular use, muscles can strengthen, including the heart, so dancing may even add years to your life!

Many nursing homes recognise the importance of helping their residents stay active. When considering assisted living communities, be sure to ask whether dance events or classes are available.