CATONSVILLE, MD (January 3, 2017) – Charlestown residents are dancing their way to health and wellness, led by Jack Jackson, 91, who has been teaching ballroom dancing at the retirement community for the last eight years.
"Whenever I hear dance music, it makes me feel like I want to get up and move," says Jack, who taught dance on nights and weekends throughout his career as an elementary school teacher in Baltimore County, Maryland. "I've taught the fox trot, waltz, cha-cha, and swing, and I still like to do tango and samba."
Jack performed a tap dance rendition of Gene Kelly's iconic "Singing in the Rain" -- complete with umbrella prop -- at the most recent Charlestown Follies. His enthusiasm for dance is infectious.
Anne Kredell and Dan Cieslowski have been taking lessons with Jack for the last four years.
"Before this, I never danced in my entire life," says Anne. "We saw a flyer posted in the community, and it sounded like fun. Jack adds new steps each week. We like it a lot. It's fun. We really have a good time together."
Jack, who once taught at Arthur Murray Dance Studio, says dancing has helped keep him in good health over the years.
"It's a great way to exercise," he says. Once you get into it, it's hard to pull yourself away it's so much fun. Health-wise I'm in darn good condition compared to other people my age. I contribute that to a lifetime of dancing."
Norma Wolff also prefers to dance her way to good health.
"I love to move to music," says Norma, who teaches line dancing classes at Charlestown. "I started taking tap and jazz classes at a senior center when we lived in Rhode Island. When we moved to Charlestown, I decided to start teaching a line dancing class. The first class was so full we could barely move, so I split the group into two separate classes."
Norma says dancing has helped her stay in shape both mentally and physically.
"You have to think about the steps and remember them and then do them," says Norma. "It's all around good for you."
Norma enjoys dancing and performing so much that she organized a musical variety show along with some of the students in her classes.
"We do a combination of dance, short skits, and singing, similar to a Vaudeville-type show," says Norma. "It's a lot of work, but we've had a great time together."
A study from Western Sydney University's School of Science and Health in Australia found people over forty who dance have a 49 percent reduction in the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Researchers believe the mixture of interval training with social interaction could be the key.
Associate professor Dafna Merom and colleagues at the University of Sydney analyzed data from more than 48,000 people forty and older who live in Great Britain. Those who danced over a ten-year period were less likely to die of heart disease than those who rarely or never danced.