Physical exercise is good for seniors and gives all kinds of health benefits and helps with healing many serious chronic diseases. Dance is a superior form of physical exercise because it also includes music and rhythm and research shows that music and dancing cover larger parts of the brain than just walking or running.
Dancing with Parkinson’s Disease
Research from 38 scientific studies proves that dancing and music have a different path to the brain than people who have neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease. During dance therapy people with Parkinson’s temporarily lose their stiffness and tremors while dancing and also show improvements with movement and posture.
Another study has shown that gait training can be improved in Parkinson’s patients by walking to the sound of music and rhythm.
Dancing is also Good for Stroke Rehabilitation
A person recovering from a stroke can sometimes sing before learning to talk again or move paralyzed limbs to the sound of music before they can learn to walk again.
At the Hearing Before The Special Committee on Aging United States Senate August 1, 1991 testimonies were presented from doctors and scientists about stroke survivors who were paralyzed in a leg and unable to move or walk, but could tap their foot when they listened to music. Other stroke victims who were paralyzed in their arm could not move their arm, but were amazingly able to play the piano. In fact, doctors were able to use music to heal the woman with the paralyzed leg and she was was able to walk again. They also healed the man with the paralyzed arm, who was a musician and he was eventually able to go back to work.
There were also testimonies from the prominent neurologist, the late Dr. Oliver Sacks, that he was treating Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s patients who could not talk, but burst out singing when listening to music.
Dancing has also shown itself to be good therapy for sedentary seniors. The University of Illinois’s Prevention Research Center at Chicago has developed a special Latin ballroom program for sedentary seniors called BAILAMOS that was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Seniors who participated in the dance program claimed to have experienced improvements with memory, attention and focus.
Dance Therapy for Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)
Seniors with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) reported that they experienced memory improvement and better cognitive function during a 10-month-long ballroom dance program.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Dancing has shown itself to be helpful for people suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia, as it is a great form of reminiscent therapy for triggering memories associated with dancing to old songs. Dancing also helps people with dementia to gain socialization skills and it seems to have a calming effect of just making them feel good.
Dancing Best Physical Exercise for Senior Women
See also our blog post from January 17, 2019 about research that proved that dancing is the best physical exercise for senior women.
Choose a Rehab with Music, Singing and Dancing
Choose a Rehab that has lots of music, singing and dancing in their recreational activities like the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York. Read more about recreation at Van Duyn in our blog post from July 11, 2018.
Dance therapy programs and dancing have all kinds of health benefits for seniors with neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Music and dancing have also shown benefits in post-stroke therapy. In truth, music and dancing are good for everyone.