We were pleased to read the news at the weekend reporting that the NHS is recommending dance classes for older people to help them to stay fit and healthy and reduce their risk of having a fall.
We certainly need to do something to prevent falls and fractures among the over-65s as they account for over 4 million hospital bed days each year in England alone and are a serious threat to older people’s self-confidence and independence: about 1 in 10 older people who have fallen are afraid to leave their homes in case they fall again.
Only 10% of the older population do as much physical exercise as is recommended by doctors and research with older people has also found that dance classes are much more popular and engaging than traditional falls prevention programmes. For many older people, an approach which is about being active and social can be much more appealing than simply trying to prevent something.
The good news is that fresh analysis from Age UK of ‘Understanding Society’ survey data reveals that a massive 1 in 10 of the over 65s in the UK are already dancing and attending dance classes. The majority are women, many of them divorcees and widows. There are so many benefits – social, emotional, physical and dancing and other forms of physical activity also help to keep the brain healthy as well as the body as we age.
In addition to the physical benefits, our Wellbeing Index found that participating in ‘creative activities’ of all kinds, including dancing, was the single most effective thing any older person could do to improve their sense of ‘wellbeing’.
It’s never too late to start becoming more active and even the most modest amount of physical activity makes a difference. If dance isn’t your thing then find something else that is – there are loads of different options. We’re sure you will feel better as a result.