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Dancing provides long list of health benefits

January 16, 2014

Researchers have been studying the effects of dancing on senior health for decades, with past findings revealing a decreased risk of developing dementia, better joint health and improved balance. Several recently released studies continue to highlight how beneficial dancing can be, especially in contributing to a healthy lifestyle for seniors.

Dancing can strengthen pelvic muscles
According to a study published in Neurourology and Urodynamics, dancing can lead to stronger pelvic muscles and a decrease in daily urine leakage. The study, led by a team of urological experts from the University of Montreal, added virtual dancing lessons to a preexisting physiotherapy program aimed at increasing pelvic muscle strength. Researchers found that by introducing dancing into the routine, there was not only a greater increase in bladder functioning, but also a larger participant turnout, which they believe can be related to the social aspect of the exercise.

"We quickly learned that the dance component was the part that the women found most fun and didn't want to miss," said Dr. Chantal Dumoulin, who spearheaded the project, in a release.

Dumoulin and her team concluded that dancing could prove to be a promising treatment for urinary incontinence. They attributed this success to the fact that when the women in the program were focused on completing the presented dance steps, they were able to control their pelvic muscles, meaning they could consciously prevent urine leakage. Although Dumoulin's participants were all women, she believes these findings open the door for further research into the topic.

Scottish dancing can delay effects of aging
Researchers at the University of Strathclyde and the Active Ageing Research Group at the University of Cumbria found that participating in Scottish country dancing could delay the aging process, or increase the process of healthy aging. They conducted this study by examining the aging process of seniors engaged in several physical activities, including swimming, walking, yoga and dancing. While all seniors who participated in these activities experienced a greater increase in health than those who did not, researchers found that dancing provided the strongest results when it came to physical health. 

Dr. Susan Dewhurst, lead researcher, explained that those who participated in daily Scottish dancing did not experience the same age-related decline as other seniors in the program. 

"It encourages upright posture and keeps the muscles strong and responsive," Dewhurst told The Scottsman.

While Dewhurst added that any physical activity assists seniors in performing daily functions, Scottish dancing had the greatest effect on decreasing the impacts of the aging process.