Ballroom Dancing to Better Balance
“I’ve fallen and can’t get up.” Unfortunately, too many people end up saying that because they have poor balance. Poor balance, though, is largely preventable, and one way to prevent poor balance is through ballroom dancing. Yes, ballroom dancing leads to better balance.
When I practiced more sports medicine I had a group of ballroom dancers as patients that I would treat for their musculoskeletal complaints. They were largely individuals over age 60. How they got to me I never knew, but they were among the most fun patients I treated. They all seemed to be energetic and loved life. Many were widowed and used ballroom dancing as way to stay socially connected and meet members of the opposite sex. But, they all liked the health benefits of ballroom dancing, too. And better balance is one of those benefits.
Falls and Poor Balance
About 1,800 individuals in nursing homes die each year from falls and over 95% of hip fractures are related to falls. Up to 25% of patients having surgery for a hip fracture die in that first year following surgery.
As we age muscles and bones get weaker, though we can prevent much of that by staying active. But, our sensory mechanisms that help maintain balance also deteriorate contributing to falls. This is compounded by the tendency to become less active with age and made worse by living in a nursing home where there is less opportunity to be physically active.
Ballroom Dancing and Better Balance
A study looking at the effects of ballroom dancing and falls in nursing home residents showed that residents who ballroom danced for 30 minutes three times a week realized a 50% improvement in their balance leading to only one fall during a 12 week period while the those residents in the control group (those not dancing) fell on average 5 times during the 12 week period.
Health Benefits of Ballroom Dancing
Ballroom dancing improves the musculoskeletal and nervous systems improving strength in the lower extremites as well as flexibility, agility, and coordination. Improved strength leads to stronger bones. It improves spatial awareness, too. Ballroom dancing is more strenuous than many believe and is classified as moderate activity capable of burning 200 to 400 calories in just 30 minutes of dancing. Ballroom dancing provides for an outlet for social interaction and improves self-confidence and self-esteem.
Dancing with the Stars
Plus, ballroom dancing is fun and doesn’t require any particular existing skill. As long as you can walk you can learn to ballroom dance – and improve your balance! Heck, with enough practice you might find yourself dancing with the stars!
No, that isn’t me in the photo.