Don't forget to dance, no, no, no
Don't forget to smile
Don't forget to dance, no, no, no
Forget it for a while
Granted, The Kinks may not be your style (although this song is a nostalgic paean to terpsichorean solace), but it illustrates the way dance can heal the heart.
From the time you danced with excitement while waiting for your mother to pass your Christmas present to the formal dance during your wedding reception to the slow dance between longtime lovers, your life is full of dance.
Whether you danced around in excitement after you scored a goal or danced around the house while doing housework (you know you did!), dance has always expressed your happiness.
Dance for Your Life
Dance can do much more though. Dance can enhance your physical and mental health, prevent falls, improve reflexes and balance and help you live longer.
The advantages of dancing have been so thoroughly proven that the Australian government lists them:
- improved condition of your heart and lungs
- increased muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness
- increased aerobic fitness
- improved muscle tone and strength
- weight management
- stronger bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis
- better coordination, agility and flexibility
- improved balance and spatial awareness
- increased physical confidence
- improved mental functioning
- improved general and psychological well-being
- greater self-confidence and self-esteem
- better social skills.
Benefits of Dance for Seniors
Those of us who remember swing and the rumba, not to mention “The Duke”, with fondness may not be able to dance as fast or as long as when we were young, but we can still reap the advantages of dance.
These studies verify how dance can improve the lives of older adults:
#1 Dance improves balance and prevents falls.
A study comparing non-dancers and social dancers and with an average age of 80 shows the dancers had better balance and a more stable gait.
#2 Dance results in increased lower body strength and a stronger stride.
Seniors who participated in an Argentine tango class increased the strength in their lower bodies and developed a longer, stronger walking stride than seniors who walked for the same amount of time. Dance also improves “balance confidence,” which may reduce fear of getting out and socializing.
#3 Dance boosts cognition.
Another study found that seniors who had danced as amateur for more than a decade had better “reaction time, motor behavior and cognitive performance.”
#4 Dancing increases socialization.
It’s possible to dance alone, but few people do. Far more likely is the scenario of groups of people dancing. And when people get together, they socialize, which prevents illness, mental decline and even death among seniors. In addition, because socialization increases participants’ happiness, they’re more likely to continue.
Dancing for Seniors
Growing numbers of dance programs specifically for seniors are now available. One of those is Zumba Gold.
The Silver Sneakers program touts the rewards of Zumba Gold for older adults. These include a healthy heart, brain perks, weight loss, greater mobility, social interaction and stress relief. Doctors recommend older adults get 30 minutes or more a day of aerobic exercise.
Zumba Gold permits dancers to go at their own speed and offers special, low-impact routines that are easy to follow.
Check out a Zumba Gold class at The Esquiline, and you’ll find men and women laughing as they gracefully—and, sometimes, not-so-gracefully—perform the routine. Zumba’s dance steps are derived from cumbia, salsa, merengue, mambo, flamenco, chacha, reggaeton, soca, samba, hip hop music, axé music and tango and can work different muscles in your body and mind than you are accustomed to.
Sometimes, the laughter drowns out the music. Sometimes, a dancer “gets it” and is in the zone where they know exactly what to do when. Everyone encourages everyone else, and that’s part of what makes it so fun.
If you’re not lucky enough to live at The Esquiline or have a dance center nearby that teaches Zumba Gold or another type of dance, turn to YouTube for inspiration. YouTube offers Zumba Gold routines, as well as other workouts for seniors.
As always, ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to exercise.
More than Zumba Gold
The Esquiline has many more activities than Zumba Gold. Play with the Rhythm Band, visit the Missouri Botanical Garden or walk on the 200 acres of natural beauty surrounding the community.
“There is a marvelous assortment of activities taking place on any given day at The Esquiline. From things like concerts on-site, symphony excursions, balance classes, book clubs, movie nights, bingo, and casino trips to baseball game viewing parties (go Cardinals!); I never run out of things to do. What’s really great is that the list of events change daily so there’s always something new to do,” says one resident.
If you have questions about The Esquiline, contact us for answers!