Monday, May 21, 2018

Put Your Dance Shoes On! Study: Promising Results for Seniors Who Participate in Dancing

Lisa Stegall, Assistant Professor of Biology at Hamline University, reports on positive results from a study where adults aged 60 to 80 participated in a weekly program of simple dance moves.  From her report for Academic Minute:

Once a week for nine weeks, seniors aged 60 to 80 years old participated in an hour of music and movement training called Dalcroze eurhythmics. Led by a certified instructor who played improvised music on a piano, the seniors walked in time with the music, changed directions, and handled and passed objects rhythmically. They moved individually, with a partner, and in small groups to increase social interaction.


Our research team, made up of faculty and students from the Exercise Science, Music, and Public Health programs, tested the participants’ walking ability before and after the intervention, and found that gait (or walking) speed significantly improved. This held true even when participants were asked to walk and perform another task at the same time, called dual tasking. This latter finding is important because most falls occur while walking, especially when also performing other tasks.


Why did this intervention improve dual-task walking speed by 20%? We hypothesize that the improvement was due to the multicomponent movement training that’s unique to Dalcroze eurhythmics. Stepping to the beat of the music while carrying a ball, and passing that ball to another person in time with the music requires awareness, attention, balance, and coordination. These are the same skills needed when navigating the home, neighborhood, or the grocery store.

I expect we will see Dalcroze Eurhythmics classes coming soon to a gym or dance studio near you!  My thanks to Dickinson Law colleague Laurel Terry for this tip.

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