Everyone wants to stay young and healthy for as long as possible. No older person will tell you that it is fun to get older or to age. Aging is a challenging process. And, in an attempt to stave off the effects of aging — don’t forget the dogged pursuit of the mystical Fountain of Youth has been happening for centuries — millions of Americans are spending billions of dollars each year on creams, pills, essential oils, and cosmetic surgery. However, sometimes going for the high-priced answer means that people overlook a far simpler answer — dancing has been shown to offer a wide range of health benefits for older adults and seniors.
Dancing is a Great Activity for Seniors
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 40 million older adult Americans — where being an older adult is defined as being 65 and over. These numbers are only likely to increase given ongoing demographic trends in the country (https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/2012/01/09/65-and-older-population-soars). Some of these older adults are already leading healthy and active lives. However, others are dealing with chronic diseases — such as high blood pressure or Type 2 diabetes — that negatively impact the quality of their life. These impacts can be either physical or psychological/emotional. For example, many older Americans struggle with feelings of loneliness or gloom that in turn can lead to depression. Often this depression is linked with other medical problems, such as a stroke (http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/depression-older-adults-more-facts).
This link between physical and emotional health is a potentially dangerous cycle that needs to be broken.
And, one of the best ways to break it is via starting to live a more active lifestyle. Any type of activity can be beneficial—from encouraging an outdoor walk once a day at a moderate space to promoting swimming (particularly for people who may struggle with more weight-bearing activities). However, there may be no activity that is more beneficial for seniors than dancing.
The physical health benefits of dancing are usually clear-cut. For example, regular dancing — of any type — boosts a person’s cardiovascular health and improves their endurance levels. At the same time, dancing may help a person’s posture (which may be critically important for a person with osteoporosis); and, it may also help increase and tone a person’s muscle mass (https://www.yourcareeverywhere.com/life-stages/healthy-aging/health-benefits-of-dancing-for-seniors.html). These benefits are important and should not be overlooked.
However, this still leaves the question: What are the emotional benefits of dancing … particularly for older Americans? Almost without fail, older Americans who dance report that dancing encourages them to get out of their home, interact with other members of their community, and also boost their willingness to engage in other activities — in other words, it can be a gateway activity to a meaningful lifestyle change (https://www.yourcareeverywhere.com/life-stages/healthy-aging/health-benefits-of-dancing-for-seniors.html). By encouraging creativity, it can also help break people out of the doldrums and lead to healthy self-exploration and personal development. All of these are wonderful emotional benefits that can go a long ways towards counteracting anxiety, depression, or a whole range of mental health challenges.
Health Benefits of Dancing- Physical and Emotional
In addition to promoting physical and emotional well-being, some research has indicated that dancing may also positively impact cognitive functioning. This could be a breakthrough for older Americans who are affected by dementia or other neurological issues, such as Parkinson’s Disease (https://www.yourcareeverywhere.com/life-stages/healthy-aging/health-benefits-of-dancing-for-seniors.html). However, research in this area is far from being definitive—some research shows that dancing specifically improves cognitive functioning, whereas other research shows that happier and healthier people have better brain functioning. So, any activity is beneficial — dance is not necessarily the magic panacea.
Yet, even if dance does not solve everything, it is still a great activity for any older American to incorporate into their regular routine.