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Waltzing beats falling

Ballroom dancing devotees John and Nella Devoy of Lismore dance at the Italo Australian Club.
Ballroom dancing devotees John and Nella Devoy of Lismore dance at the Italo Australian Club. Jacklyn Wagner

IT'S time to get those dancing shoes on.

Whether it's a romantic waltz, a feisty foxtrot or a bit of rock'n'roll, there are now more reasons than ever to hit the dance floor.

University of Sydney research has found that regular dancing classes improve balance and strength in elderly people, preventing falls and other health complications.

Dancing is so good for you, the study claims, that elderly people should dance at least twice a week.

Lismore's John and Nella Devoy have been dancing professionally and socially for decades, so they already know about the mental and fitness benefits.

They spend a lot of time teaching dancing to people of all ages.

"It's a way to use your muscles and your body in a positive way," Mr Devoy said.

"Dancing is all about poise, posture, walking correctly and having good balance.

"You use your brain and your body. We always see great improvements in the people we teach.

"A lot of people, elderly people in particular, think they can't dance but some of our students are well into their 70s.

"You don't have to be a spring chicken to dance and see benefits."

The University of Sydney research has been funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council and will be led by Dr Dafna Merom.

She said falls were one of the most common health problems affecting older people.

"Dance is a complex sensory motor rhythmic activity. It also has cognitive and social dimensions," she said.

"This can simultaneously address a wide range of physiological and cognitive risk factors that contribute to falls."

 

DARE TO DANCE

  • Improves balance, strength, poise and social skills.
  • Dancing could reduce the incidence of falls for elderly people by as much 37%.
  • Try at least two dancing sessions a week to see results.

Topics:  dancing elderly people old age



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