Dance your way to healthy, happy ageing

April 11th, 2009 - 3:11 pm ICT by IANS  

London, April 11 (IANS) The elderly can dance their way towards improved health, happiness and well being, besides staving off illnesses.
A new study by Jonathan Skinner from Queen’s University, Belfast, demonstrates the social, mental and physical benefits of social dancing for older people.

Recommendations include the expansion of social dance provision for older people in order to aid successful ageing and help them enjoy longer and healthier lives.

Skinner, social anthropology lecturer at Queen’s, studied the effects of social dancing amongst older people in Northern Ireland, Blackpool and Sacramento, California.

“I have found that social dancing leads to a continued engagement with life - past, present, and future - and holds the promise for successful ageing,” said Skinner.

“It contributes to the longevity of the dancers, giving them something to enjoy and focus upon - to live for. It alleviates social isolation and quite literally helps take away the aches and pains associated with older age,” he added.

“In Northern Ireland, dancing brings people together across communities, creating solidarity, tolerance and understanding,” he said, according to a Queen’s release.

Sarah, a 70-year-old and a regular ice-dancer, who took part in the study said: “My daughters brought me down to the ice rink. I have to say, after years of dancing on a ballroom floor, I was very impressed and skating has great flow and speed.

“I’ve been doing it for 12 years now. We do the rumba, quickstep, foxtrot and tango. My instructor even wanted me to compete. My friends have commented that my energy is overwhelming, ‘what’s the secret?’ they ask, and I just say ‘keep dancing’.”

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