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Aerobic Exercise for Seniors: Dancing
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Dance Your Way to Better Health

May 26, 2021

As we get older, regular physical activity is one of the best things we can do for our health. Staying in motion keeps muscles strong and flexible and helps us maintain balance and coordination. It helps control weight, reduces our chances of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes and boosts immune function.  According to a recent study published in Neurology® – regular physical activity even improves memory, thinking and reduces the risk of dementia.

an elderly couple dancing together in their home

Exercise can be a great way to stay social and have fun. Now, fun may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—but it can be!

Dancing is one of the best ways to exercise your whole body. It improves strength and coordination, burns a good deal of calories, and keeps your brain active too. While you can certainly dance solo, most dances can be shared with others, from ballroom dancing with a partner, to joining a salsa or Zumba workout class, or just dancing for fun with some friends.  

Fend Off Falls With a Favorite Activity 

A 2020 study, published in JAMA Network® Open, found that dance-based mind-motor activities can significantly reduce the risk of falling and fall rates. In addition, dancing was associated with improved balance, mobility and lower body strength.

That’s a big deal, because the CDC says every second of every day, an adult age 65 or older suffers a fall in the United States. Falls are the leading cause of injury, like potentially devastating hip fractures, and the leading cause of injury-related death in this age group. 

Types of Dance to Consider 

So, you’ve decided to give dancing a try but don’t know where to start? If you’re part of a senior living community like Embark, check in with the Healthy Lifestyles Director to see what types of dance-based workouts, classes and social dancing events are offered on site.

Many dance studios, gyms, community centers and senior centers also offer dance programs, so you can check their websites, stop in or request a brochure. If you want to practice at home, there are plenty of instructional dance videos available for purchase or even free online. Or, just turn on the radio and have some fun with your friends! Staying in motion and having fun are the most important parts.

Here are some popular types of dances you may want to check out:

  • Zumba: a fitness program that combines Latin and international music with dance moves
  • Jazzercise: a combination of aerobic exercise, high-intensity cardio and dance fitness
  • Ballet (traditional) or Barre, which combines ballet-inspired moves with Pilates, other dance, yoga and strength training
  • Ballroom dance: Think the waltz, foxtrot and tango performed as partners. 
  • Square dancing or line dancing: popular types of social dance with moves either called or memorized
  • Salsa: a partnered dance with Afro-Cuban roots 

Independent living in an Embark community means plenty of opportunities for fun activities like dancing. Find an Embark community near you and learn more

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