Dancing Our Way to Healthy Bones and Balance

The mind-body requirements of dance have a wide range of healthful side effects
October 12, 2020 Updated: October 12, 2020

One of the most pressing health issues facing aging folks is falling. Falling can increase the chance of a severe bone break that has the potential to hinder your life.

It might be crazy to think that most people fall when out for an unassuming walk. Falls can even happen on the way from the living room to the kitchen.

Concentration can get a little tougher in older age. A slight lapse—answering the phone, chatting with a friend, or moving your focus—can lead to a slip. A common factor in falls is medications that affect balance and coordination. The only real way to combat these realities is with better balance, improved mobility, and faster reaction times.

And in these regards, dancing could be a big help.

Dancing and similar movements can lower the frequency and risk for falls, according to a recent review published in JAMA Network Open.

“This systematic review and meta-analysis of 29 randomized clinical trials found that dance-based mind-motor interventions were associated with a statistically significant reduction (37 percent) in fall risk and a statistically significant reduced rate (31 percent) of falls,” wrote the authors.

Dancing and other mind-motor activities involve upright movements emphasizing balance and inner rhythm, like breathing. Instructions and choreography can help as they allow for mental focus as participants transition between movements.

Choreography, however, is likely not required to experience the potential benefits of dancing. Being up, mobile, agile, and moving on through your own moves is likely to offer the same benefits for balance, multitasking, and reaction time.

But starting with a teacher or a choreographer is recommended.

Intentional focus allows dancers to make controlled movements and weight distributions, helping to build mind-body connections to lead to better balance and faster reactions when balance is lost.

If dancing isn’t your thing, tai chi might be. In any event, before jumping into such activities, it’s best to acclimate yourself to increased activity. Start with slow, focused walks. Once mobility has improved, you can branch out more safely.

Positive associations between dance and mobility, balance, and lower leg strength all make it a great tool to reduce the risk of falls. Protect your bones by staying upright!

Devon Andre holds a bachelor’s degree in forensic science from the University of Windsor in Canada and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Andre is a journalist for BelMarraHealthwhich first published this article.