New Study: Can Twice Weekly Ballroom Dancing Prevent Falls in Elderly?

The University of Sidney, Australia has announced a new study to test whether twice weekly ballroom dancing can restore balance and strength and prevent falls in older adults.

The one-year long study, entitled “The effectiveness of social dancing as a strategy to prevent falls in older people: a cluster randomized controlled trial,” is to be conducted by Dr Dafna Merom, an Honorary Associate at the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health. According to the University of Sidney’s January 6, 2012 announcement of the study, Dr. Merom and her team are seeking to recruit 450 older adults to participate in the dance program, which will run for one year.

“Dr Merom says it is widely acknowledged that falls are one of the most common health problems among older people, and this study has the potential to reduce the incidence of falls for elderly Australians by as much 37 percent,” according to an article about the study, entitled “Dancing their falls away,” published on January 6, 2012 by the University of Sidney

“We know that formal exercise programs, particularly those that include balance challenging training, can help prevent falls, but formal training exercises may not be the best way to optimise results. There are promising alternatives,” says Dr. Merom.

“Evidence from preliminary study showed what a promising, sustainable alternative to formal exercise programs social and ballroom dancing can be.”

As part of the new study, Dr. Merom plans to introduce classic ballroom dance routines including the rumba, foxtrot, salsa, the waltz, and even some ‘rock n roll’ as twice-weekly recreational activities at 13 aged care centres and retirement villages across Sydney.

She says these classic dances include movements as well as cognitive and social elements that can improve balance and strength, and thereby help prevent falls.

“Small-scale randomised controlled trials have shown that all sorts of dance styles can improve measures of balance and mobility in older people.”

“Dance is a complex sensory motor rhythmic activity. It also has cognitive and social dimensions. This package as a whole can simultaneously address a wide range of physiological and cognitive risk factors that contribute to falls,” Dr. Merom says.

“Studies have shown that seniors who do some type of dancing have better balance and gait characteristics than people of a similar age who don’t, including those who exercise. Social dancing or ballroom dancing is enjoyable and already available in the community,” suggests Dr Merom.

The study will be the first of its kind internationally to test the effectiveness of typical community social dance programs on falls and cognition in older people, according to the University of Sidney.

The multi-centre study has been funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, and will include researchers from the University of Sydney, University of Western Sydney, Australian National University, and the University of Hong Kong.

More Information

See a news report and video about the study by Australia’s ABC1′s 7.30, part of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

See also the reports by HelpingYouCare™ on:

How To Stay Fit At Any Age

Lillian Field Berkowitz – Impromptu Tango Showcase at Age 102!

Why Some Doctors Dance

New Study Finds Exercising to Music Improves Balance & Reduces Risk of Falls in Seniors

Let’s Dance to Health, by AARP

See also the HelpingYouCare™ resource pages on Wellness/ Healthy Living for Seniors & Caregivers, including:

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Copyright © 2012 Care-Help LLC, publisher of HelpingYouCare™.

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