Quickstep Your Way To Good Health

Senior couple dancing at home

Helen Stirrup, occupational health advisor at Stannah:

Helen Stirrup

Helen Stirrup

Why not take a leap of faith (or should that be a swivel) into the world of dancing? From line dancing to Latin, ballroom to ballet, there are dance classes available to suit all interests and abilities – not to mention the physical and mental health benefits: 

1 You’re never too old

Pasha Kovalev, Ashley Roberts, Strictly Come Dancing

(C) BBC – Photographer: Ray Burmiston

First things first, you are never too old to dance – it is universal. If you’ve always fancied yourself as a Fred Astaire or Ginger Rodgers, why not give it a whirl? There are no rules when it comes to dancing (despite what Craig Revel-Horwood might say). Start small if your mobility isn’t what it used to be.

2 Build up a sweat

Dancing is physical exercise which will help to improve cardiovascular health, whilst also improving flexibility and reducing stiffness. Dancing uses lots of different body parts, helping you keep mobile, maintain your agility and strengthen bones. If you’re looking to tone up or lose a couple of stubborn pounds, dancing is a fun way to get into shape.

3 Reduce falls with dance

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), more than 282,000 people over the age of 65 were admitted to hospital because of a fall in 2014/5. Dancing is one of the best forms of exercise to help with balance, which in turn could reduce falls in over-65s and improve coordination, with the ‘Dance to Health’ programme having a high completion rate of 73%.

4 Keep your mind sharp!

Senior woman listening music with headphones in the park

Pic: iStockphoto

As we grow older, cognitive function can start to decline. However, a recent study of 60-80 years olds showed that those who danced three times a week, fared better and experienced less mental deterioration than others. Therefore, remembering steps, and counting the beats when dancing is a proven way to keep the mind sharp. 

5 Mood boosting

Exercise releases endorphins, which boost our mood – and dancing is no different. You don’t need anyone else to enjoy dancing, nor do you need any equipment, which makes it a very accessible exercise. So, why not reminisce by putting on your favourite music, and having a boogey!

6 Bringing people together

cheerful seniors enjoying their time together practicing dance

Pic: iStockphoto

Joining a dance class can be a perfect opportunity to make friends, with research suggesting that “the social dimension is almost as important as the physical dimension” of dancing. Dancing can help bring people together and strengthen relationships, whether new or old – helping to create a spark with that ‘special someone’.

So, while it’s lovely to sit back and watch people fall in love, through dance, on screen. Why not take the chance to sign up for the next dance class in your area, and see what how it boosts your wellness and social life?  

Moira Chisholm

I'm the Health Editor on My Weekly and am always interested to hear what's new in this fascinating field. I also deal with the gardening, shopping pages, general features, our website content and the Ask Helen problem page. I have a special interest in Christmas content because I'm on the team for Your Best Ever Christmas Magazine, too!