It is quite common to see older friends, family, and members of the community lose their agency and physical strength to the rigors of aging. It can be quite disempowering but aging doesn’t mean you have to give up your agency. There are a whole host of exceptional exercise methods that you can practice well into old age, and among the best for your physical and mental health is (you guessed it) dance!
Of course, the natural question is, what about dance makes it so good for preserving your strength and dexterity? There are several key components. The first is perhaps the most integral to dance in all its forms: balance. It’s no secret that a sense of balance is key to almost any largely physical activity, and most forms of dance require constant effort and attention to stay balanced and in control. This means that for those who feel their sense of balance starting to deteriorate, dance is an exceptional way to hone that sense and keep it in use!
Another major component to dance is flexibility and joint strength. Ailments related to these physical elements are exceptionally common among 65+ year olds. Regular dance-based exercise reinforces a large range of motion across different moves and steps, and can be a great way to stretch and keep joints in use that may not get much exercise in everyday life. Stretch those arms up to the sky and breathe deeply, you’ll feel your joints become more limber and less painful with a bit of practice and diligence.
Perhaps the most unique and incredible benefit of practicing dance in old age is the mental rigor it reinforces. The amount of focused, intentional movement required to dance is the perfect practice for mental focus, dexterity, and quick thinking. By putting your mind to work with dance, you can do a lot to slow the onset of degenerative mental conditions and retain your ability to focus for longer periods of time.
These benefits of dance have been demonstrated remarkably in studies conducted on aging dancers! A 2018 study conducted by Japanese researchers discovered that amongst a large population of aging Japanese women, those who engaged in light dance-based exercise regularly remained more physically healthy and mentally acute than the groups who exercised in other ways or didn’t exercise at all. And who are we to argue with science?