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 Adding Dance Steps To Exercise Increases Enjoyment For Elders

A new study suggests that social dancing doesn’t prevent falls or associated risks in seniors, yet there are many reasons for able elders to shake a leg.
For instance, nurse practitioner and professor of nursing Barbara Resnick, RN, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, FAANP, says, “Dancing is a wonderful source of physical activity—we do this all the time. There are numerous studies supporting the physical benefits of dancing in terms of balance and aerobic benefit.  It is also a fun activity and something [even folks with some cognitive impairment] can remember how to do.” ​
The study’s lead author Dafna Merom, PhD, also suggests the potential value of dancing for skilled nursing center residents. She tells Provider, “Our study was conducted in retirement villages with populations who are independent and free of cognitive impairments. Participants were also very active. It is possible that the effect of social dancing in nursing homes would be great, as there will be a greater potential for a positive change in physiological, cognitive, and mental health—all known risk factors for falls."
Various studies over the years have shown the health benefits of social dancing for seniors. For instance, a 2009 report conducted in Australia (www.worldhealth.net/news/research_shows_that_social_dancing_in_ol/) concluded that dancing gave seniors something to live for and that it alleviated social isolation and eased some aches and pains.
Whether it means dancing or other activity, movement is important for nursing center residents. As Merom says, “One thing is for sure—sitting and not moving just increases the chance of falling. Increasingly, physical activity within boundaries is important for everyone.”
However, she adds, “In old age, we must ensure a combination of strength, balance, and aerobic activity. If we only go for a walk without working on leg and core muscle strength or doing balance exercises, we are neglecting the specific physiological risk for falls.”
For more about Merom’s study, go to http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1002112.
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