Health Benefits of Dancing
Preliminary results of a recent study presented at the annual meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers in May indicate that “…ballroom dance can be a fun, social form of physical activity for people with MS that can result in improved motor performance, gait, endurance, and cognition.”
Ballroom-style dancing has previously shown benefit in patients with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. A small study published in Disability and Rehabilitation in April suggested that structured salsa lessons could improve physical activity, gait, and balance in people with MS. The more recent study had participants with MS paired with partners without MS dancing the rumba, foxtrot, waltz, swing, American tango, and push-pull, as well as salsa. The researchers, most of them from Marquette University in Milwaukee, recruited people who could get around with minimal to moderate aid and were able to physically take part in the program. Not only did certain symptoms improve — including motor performance, gait, endurance, and cognition — there is evidence that MS-related fatigue was also lessened, independent of normal improvements expected with increased cardiovascular activity. The social- and physical-activity aspects of a structured dance class may make sense for many of us. Also, it seems logical that learning something new — particularly something new having to do with the use of our limbs, balance, and rhythm — can help the brain create new neurological pathways. Neuroplasticity is the mechanism by which our brains can “rewire” themselves to get around damage. The study’s authors say that, “Like all therapies, it will not be for everyone, but if the trial is proven to be safe and effective, it could be a fun and engaging option.”
So there you have it: another reason to get out there and learn something new. Maybe Jack Osbourne was onto something…
Study of seniors shows decreased knee-hip pain and increased ability to walk among those who dance. Those who danced had less pain in their knees and hips and were able to walk faster, the study found.
Monday, June 30, 2014
Dancing can reduce seniors' knee and hip pain and also improve their walking, a new, small study finds.
The research involved 34 seniors, average age 80, who all had pain or stiffness in their knees or hips as a result mainly of arthritis. The participants -- mostly women -- were assigned to a group that danced for 45 minutes up to two times a week for 12 weeks or to a control group that did not dance. By the end of the 12 weeks, those who danced had less pain in their knees and hips and were able to walk faster, said Jean Krampe, an assistant professor of nursing at Saint Louis University and lead author of the study. The use of pain medicines fell by 39 percent among seniors in the dance group but rose 21 percent among those who did not dance, she noted.
The findings about walking speed are important, she added, because seniors who walk too slowly are more likely to fall, be hospitalized or require care from others. "Doctors and nurses recognize gait speed as the sixth vital sign that can help us predict adverse outcomes for older adults," Krampe said in a university news release. "Walking just a little more rapidly can make enough of a difference for a person to get across the street more quickly or get to the bathroom faster, which keeps them functional and independent. In our study, those who danced didn't walk dramatically faster, but they had a meaningful change in their walking speed," she added.
The study was published recently in the journal Geriatric Nursing.