The slower, structured style of ballroom dance helps older people to develop their core and increase strength in the ankles, which helps them improve balance.
Older people are often at risk of falling because as muscle's deteriorate with age, balance worsens. Annually, almost 5,000 pensioners die from falls and injuries from falls are the biggest cause of emergency hospital visits from pensioners each year in Great Britain.
Dance scientist, Dr Emma Redding said: “Dancing makes you take physical risks you would not on your own. You shift your weight from side to side, from front to back, as you would not do when walking. This helps with ankle and core stability and makes people much more confident when moving in everyday life.
The postural alignment is very important in preventing falls in older people and could help keep them safe.”
The Tango in particular has been recommended as the dance is close contact between you and your partner. This provides additional support and control over your movement.
Ballroom Dance and Dementia
A study from 2003 that looked into the connection between leisure activities and the risk of dementia in later life also saw benefits in ballroom dancing. It showed a 6% reduction in the chances of developing dementia and was the most beneficial activity examined.
The neurologist who assisted the study offered an explanation; “dancing involves precise physical activity, listening to the music, remembering dance steps and taking your partner into account, which is very mentally testing".
Social benefits of ballroom dancing
Dance also provides a good social experience for older people, especially for those who are widowed. Pensioners may have danced when they were younger, so it's great for them to be able to enjoy an activity that brings back such positive memories.
Dr Redding said: “These dance classes are so important for older people because of the partner aspect. 'These are people who may not have been touched for many months and this provides physical human contact with others, whether they dance with a man or a woman, and can help boost their self-esteem. We see older people dressing up and putting make-up on for dancing lessons, which they really look forward to.”
It's also scientifically confirmed that older people who engage in dance live longer. Reports by BUPA show that regular physical activity reduces the onset of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and depression amongst other conditions.
Dance also helps to improve balance, flexibility and increase strength.
How to find a ballroom dance class for seniors
Dance classes are now widely recommended for elderly people and that means they have become more accessible as a result. There a lots of dance teachers on Dance Near You that are offering classes in the UK.
If you're looking for a class for yourself, for a family member or a friend, just enter the postcode into our search and this will show you the nearest teachers.
Alternatively, you can Download the 'NearYou' iPhone App here to find and book places.