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Zumba is the social exercise of choice for some seniors

August 2, 2012

Many older adults are constantly looking for new activities to enjoy healthy aging, and seniors in Arizona have jumped on one of the latest trends. Zumba, the dance-based fitness program, has been making its way to retirement communities across the Grand Canyon state thanks in large part to one man, The Arizona Republic reports.

Barry Brooks, a senior himself, leads Zumba classes across the state. After retiring from his longtime business venture, Brooks began looking for volunteer opportunities, and it was not long before he found his calling as a Zumba instructor.

Today, his students range from younger baby boomers to one woman who is over 100, but they all have one thing in common - they want to enjoy the benefits of staying active, and Brooks says his classes are one of the best ways to do so.

"I want the participants to use as many of the muscle groups as possible and I make sure that they are using their wrists, knees, ankles to keep them as flexible as possible," Brooks told the newspaper. "Also, a recent Alzheimer's study recommends exercise to help stave off the onset of Alzheimer's. Specific exercise recommended? Dancing."

Outside of the health benefits, activities like Zumba are also ideal for seniors because they take place in a social setting. Social engagement, whether through Zumba, golf or any number of activities, is one of the best ways for seniors to ward off depression.

In fact, according to, elderly social exercise programs are crucial to senior health. Specifically, experts say staying socially and physically active can stave off cognitive decline, and as a result, physical decline.