Dancing has been a part of human history for thousands of years. Today, people in every culture and country can reap the health benefits of dancing – many incorporate dance into various celebrations and ceremonies.

This is because dance lifts the spirit while benefiting the body, and anyone can learn basic dance moves with some practice. And because it is not dependent upon the season, you can enjoy dancing all year round.

Dance Benefits: More Than You’d Expect

Dance is a gentle and painless way to exercise, because it engages the mind and body in an enjoyable way that does not feel like exercise. And it causes fewer injuries because its varied movements are less repetitive in nature.

As a senior, you can experience any number of the health benefits of dancing:

1. Better cardiovascular health. Dance provides low-impact cardio at an activity level that produces many of the same heart and pulmonary benefits as traditional cardio exercises.

2. Greater strength and endurance. Dancing builds muscle strength in almost every part of the body because you are moving your body in such a way that require your muscles to resist your body weight. It increases your ability to go about daily tasks with less chance of injury or falls due to frailty. And think about this — the more you move (dance), the more you are able to move (in general).

3. Improved bone health. Movement enhances bone strength because it increases bone mass.

4. Better weight management. Dancing provides a whole-body workout that results in calorie burn.

5. Increased energy levels. Dancing stimulates the production of feel-good hormones like serotonin and endorphins, which make you more energized.

6. Improved flexibility. Dance helps seniors avoid other injuries by keeping joints loose and enabling more movement with less physical discomfort.

7. Enhanced agility. As we age, we tend to lose the ability to move quickly and easily. Dancing helps you regain some of that agility.

8. Improved balance. Dance requires you to use balance as you move, step, and turn. Your base of support changes with each movement, and your brain and body respond by enhancing your ability to adjust and maintain your balance as you move.

9. Better cognition. Research shows that 1-2 hours a week of dancing can improve cognitive skills. The memorization of steps and the focus required by dancing result in increased brain activity, which promotes better cognitive function.

10. More opportunities for social interaction. Dancing is a great social activity. Whether in a dance class or at a party or celebration, you meet people with like interests in a non-competitive active that is all about having fun.

11. Lifts the spirit. Dance lets you take your mind off the things that stress you and provides a break from your worries.

12. Builds confidence. Dance can make you better physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. With all that going for you, you are bound to feel more confident about yourself and the world around you.

Getting Started

Before beginning there are a few things to do:

  • Visit your physician
  • Do warmups and stretches before any physical activity
  • Eat well to fuel your body
  • Stay hydrated
  • Listen to your body. Go at your own pace.
  • Wear appropriate well-fitting shoes
  • Don’t be intimidated

Seniors can participate in many forms of dance. For example, line dancing is popular with seniors. Each line dance is choreographed to a specific song, and incorporates moves that become the dance routine.

There are basic line dance steps that are used in many of the various dances.

There are dance fitness routines designed for seniors.

And ballet exercises for seniors.

Or maybe you would like to try tap dancing?

Whatever you decide, enjoy the benefits of dance and have fun!

Check out Bethesda’s Independent Living blog to find more activities that boost senior wellbeing.