Ballroom dancing – the perfect activity for retirees?

Health
23 October 2017
Just how good is ballroom dancing for you?

Many of us are fond of watching ballroom dancing on a Saturday night from the comfort of our living room, casting our judgements on each couple’s ‘armography’ or fancy footwork, but did you know that ballroom dancing is one of the best activities that you can take up in retirement? There are many reasons why…

Low impact exercise

Unless you are going to try and re-create some of Strictly’s more dramatic lifts, most ballroom dancing provides perfect low-impact exercise. NHS England claim that ‘regular dancing is great for …maintaining strong bones, improving posture and muscle strength, increasing balance and co-ordination’. So even if you think you have two left feet, just giving it a go can bring you multiple benefits. 

And let’s not forget that all of that striding across the dance floor helps to burn calories, which, if combined with a healthy diet, could help with weight loss. Plus, if it’s a choice between going for a run and twirling around a dance floor, we know what we’d prefer! 

Can decrease the risk of dementia

Ballroom dancing can also provide a great workout for the brain. Having to remember the sequence of moves and combine memory and movement has been proven to help decrease the risk of dementia and aid memory loss. Research in the USA in 2003 looked at a range of leisure activities over a long period of time, and discovered that ‘dancing was the only physical activity associated with a lower risk of dementia.’

More recent research published in 2016 and published by Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience said that the reason that ballroom dancing in particular helped to prevent dementia is because it helped to improve spatial memory which is a key element of dancing. 

Can help to prevent loneliness 

The social element of ballroom dancing is really important too. Getting to know a new group of people and having a shared interest can be a wonderful thing. It’s a great excuse to get out of the house, and to forge lasting friendships. 

Once you’ve learned a few basic steps you might want to try finding some social dances in your local area. These might be a tea dance, or a regular meet-up where you can just turn up and dance. Social dances are particularly good for people who do not have a partner to take along every week and are usually a lot cheaper than dance classes.

The dances vary in terms of style – you could do a ‘slot’ dance, where each couple are assigned a space to dance in, or you might try a ‘progressive’ dance that moves around the floor. Whatever the style of the social dance, the chances are that you’ll get to meet some new people, have a giggle when you accidentally bump into someone and get to do something different. Why not give it a try? You can find local social dances by checking out your local community centres or doing a quick google search.

So maybe it’s time to try a new hobby. Who knows, maybe you’ll find out that you have a hidden talent! And if not, hopefully you’ll get a bit fitter and meet some new friends along the way. 

Image credit: SpeedKingz via Shutterstock.