Don’t get grandma another pair of slippers this year for Christmas. Help the seniors in your life find the fountain of youth through ballroom dancing.
First of all, your grandmother is not at all like grandmothers of yesteryear. Today’s seniors are more active, more experienced, and more youthful than those of previous generations. Many don’t even want to be called Grandma because it sounds too old.
How well you age has to do with social engagement, both physical and mental activity, and sense of purpose. Ballroom dancing touches on all of these. Grandparents today don’t see themselves as old and are not about submitting gracefully into the background of life. Even for the most traditional senior, ballroom dance can become their fountain of youth.
The most obvious benefit for everyone of ballroom dancing, but particularly seniors, is physical exercise. Muscle loss can be problematic as we age. Not only does it affect how strong we feel, it also affects how we look and how mobile we are.
A low-impact aerobic activity, ballroom dance is good for your heart and your lungs. As a weight-bearing aerobic exercise, ballroom dancing is also great for not only working on muscle mass but slowing bone loss.
Partnership dance is also one of the best activities for balance, which is a particular concern to us as we age. While dance can create a stronger core, it also trains you to better maintain balance on your own, in partnership, and on a crowded dance floor. Feeling more physically balanced gives you the confidence to do more as you age. For it is our fear of falling or hurting ourselves as much as anything that makes us start to feel old.
According to a study published in the England Journal of Medicine, ballroom dancing is one of the best activities for memory and mental acuity. In his article about this study “Use It or Lose IT: Dancing Makes You Smarter Longer“, Richard Powers explains how ballroom dancing increases neuroplasticity. It helps to stave off dementia, improve problem-solving skills, and focus attention. He highlights that dancing frequently reduced risk of dementia 76% more than any other activity, mental or physical.
As important as our mental ability is, our state of mind, or how we think of ourselves is equally significant in our quality of life. Coping with loss and change is an important factor in living well as we get older. We deal increasingly with the loss of family members and peers, the changes in our place in the world or our abilities. Being able to deal with those changes have tremendous impact on our life and health. Ballroom dance can take your mind off your troubles, give you something to work on, and give you a new and varied social and support group. Ballroom dancing’s fountain of youth has as much to do with making human connections and providing an emotional and creative outlet as it does with having a better physical quality of life.
The reason that most independent seniors remain independent is often because they don’t think of age as an inevitability. They don’t resign themselves to slowing down and slowly giving up. Their age does not define who they are or what they can do. They stay mentally, physically, and socially active. They make sure they have a reason to get up in the morning, have a things to do, people to see. Seniors that do not have goals and fun social interaction can start to waste away physically and mentally. Having our own activities, purpose, dreams, and means of creative expression are what make us feel human and give us the drive to live.