In Canada, CARP refers to the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, a national non-profit organization dedicated to advocating on behalf of seniors and retirees. CARP
Dance Exercises For Seniors
Dancing for seniors is an activity that promotes physical health, mental health and social wellbeing. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, there are dance exercises can help in staying healthy by strengthen your heart, maintain your balance and coordination, and increase flexibility. With older people, dance is a great low impact way of exercising. Here are a few examples of dance exercises that are suitable for seniors:
- Line Dancing: This is a fun and easy way to move to music without a partner. It’s done in a group setting, where a group of people dance in one or more lines. The steps in a line dance are straightforward and easy to follow, so they’re perfect for seniors or those who have difficult or limited mobility. Examples of line dances include the Electric Slide, the Cha Cha Slide, and the Cupid Shuffle.
- Ballroom Dancing: Ballroom dancing is a form of social dance known for its elegance and sophistication. This includes dances like the Waltz, Foxtrot, and Tango. These dances are elegant and can help improve balance and coordination. These dances are typically done with a partner and involve smooth and flowing movements. For example, The Waltz is a ballroom dance in 3/4 time, where partners dance to a pattern of 3 steps and then a slide. These dances can be danced with a partner, but they are also used in solo practices and workouts.
- Square Dancing: This is a traditional American dance usually dance in groups. This social dance alternates from one set of four dancers (a square) to another, following the patterns and formations of an agreed-upon caller. Square dancing is a fun way to socialize and improve coordination. Some of the moves are: “do-si-do,” “promenade,” “swing your partner,” and “allemande left.” The caller can say “all squares to the left, all squares three” which means that everyone who is square dancing should rotate in unison towards the third person on their right. Another call out is “hops and skips” which means the entire crowd should step back two steps, then two hops forward and two skips back
- Latin Dance: Latin dances like the salsa, cha-cha, and mambo can be more lively and energetic, and a great way to improve cardiovascular health, coordination, and flexibility. This style of dance features quick footwork and lots of hips and arm movements. Salsa, for example, is a popular Latin dance that has its roots in Cuba. Salsa dancing includes many of the same moves as ballroom salsa—such as the cross-body lead and basic steps. It is performed to fast Latin music with a syncopated beat.
- Chair Dancing: The style of dancing is done with a chair or other seating devices, which makes it suitable for those with mobility issues or is in a wheelchair. It can improve balance, coordination and strength while being seated. A chair is used to steady oneself, but the movements are not limited by it. A chair can also be used for exercises such as arm raises, or help maintain balance.
- Yoga Dance: Yoga dance is a fusion of yoga and dance. It’s a slow, meditative practice that involves breathing and physical movement. It can help improve balance, flexibility and coordination. Yoga dance often mixes flowing movements, such as those found in Tai Chi or Qigong, and combines them with yoga postures. Moves are made with the breath, focusing on alignment and form. This type of dance requires focus and concentration, which can also be beneficial for mental well-being. Examples of yoga dance moves include sun salutations, warrior poses, and tree poses.
It’s best to check with a healthcare professional to make sure that the selected dance exercise is appropriate and if there any precautions need to be taken. Additionally, it’s recommended to look for classes or instructors that specialize in dance for seniors or those with limited mobility to ensure the movements are safe and appropriate for their needs.
Variety Of Benefits For Dance Exercises For Seniors
Dances for seniors have significant benefits can increase physical abilities, mental health, socialization, coordination, cultural connection and self esteem – which seniors often experience declines in these aspects of their lives with age. Dance exercises can provide a wide range of benefits for seniors, including:
- Physical Fitness: Dancing is a form of physical activity that can improve cardiovascular health, endurance and flexibility. It can also help to increase muscle strength and improve balance. More on this below.
- Mental Health: Dancing can be a healthy way to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. It can also help to improve mood, cognitive function, and overall quality of life.
- Social Interaction: Dancing can provide seniors with a sense of community and social interaction, as they are often dancing in groups. It can also help to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Though dancing can be done alone, dance exercise classes are a great opportunity to connect with others.
- Coordination And Motor Skills: Dancing is a form of exercise that can help you improve your coordination and balance. It requires a certain level of motor skills—remembering steps and routines—that can help keep the mind sharp.
- Cultural Enrichment: Many dances have cultural and historical significance. When learning them seniors can be exposed to different cultures and history, which can be an enriching experience; either learning more about their own or a different cultural.
- Empowerment: Dancing can be a great way for seniors to stay active and feel independent. Through dance, they can feel empowered and capable.
Physical Activity Health Benefits For Seniors
Dancing is a great form of exercise for seniors because it combines physical activity with music and social interaction. Expanding on the benefits, let’s look more at the specific health benefits that dance exercises can provide. Here are some of the main health benefits that seniors can expect from dance exercise:
- Cardiovascular Health: Dancing is a great form of exercise because it gets your heart pumping and increases blood flow throughout the body. Increasing the heart rate and improving circulation can help to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Strength And Flexibility: Dancing can make muscles stronger and more flexible, particularly in the legs, hips and torso. This can help to reduce the risk of falls and improve mobility.
- Endurance: Dancing is a great way to build endurance by increasing the ability to sustain or resist fatigue. Dance can be addictive, which can be a positive impact on endurance. The more you do, the more you can do.
- Balance And Coordination: Dancing improves balance and coordination by increasing one’s ability to control their body. This can help to reduce the risk of falls and improve overall physical function.
- Bone Health: Dancing can help to prevent osteoporosis and broken bones by increasing bone density.
Don’t Stop Dancing, Dance At Home!
Dance exercises can be done at home! There are many dance-based exercise videos, classes and apps designed specifically for seniors as well those who prefer exercising at home. This can be a great option for those who may have difficulty getting to the gym or dance class, or those who just prefer the privacy of their own home.
Here are a few tips for doing dance exercises at home:
- Start with a beginner-level class or video: Look for classes or videos that are specifically geared toward older adults, beginners and people with disabilities. This will ensure that the movements are safe and easy to follow.
- Obstacle Free Space: Before you begin to exercise, check your surroundings and make sure that nothing can trip or fall on you.
- Comfortable Clothes: When exercising, wear clothes that are comfortable and do not restrict your movements. It’s also important to wear clothes that allow your body to breathe.
- The Right Shoes: It’s important to wear comfortable and supportive shoes when working out, as it will help you maintain balance and stability.
- Follow the instructor’s lead: Watch the instructor for instructions and try to imitate their movements.
- Take It Slow: Don’t be afraid to take your time, and if something doesn’t feel right then make an adjustment. It’s important to know your limits and respect them.
- Have Fun and Enjoy: Dancing should be fun! Keep the mood light and not so serious to enjoy the experience.
It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before beginning any new exercise routine. Seniors should choose an exercise that is safe, appropriate for their ability level, and enjoyable. Additionally, when it comes to classes or instructors for seniors or those with limited mobility, finding ones that specialize in dance is the best way to ensure safety and appropriateness.
Dancing is a fun and accessible way for seniors to maintain their physical and mental well-being, improve balance, coordination and cardiovascular health and can be a great way to improve their overall quality of life.