8/12/2022 | By Kari Smith

Seniors Guide examines the benefits of dancing for seniors and suggests ways to access this, fun, entertaining and healthy activity.

Feel like cutting a rug? Whether you’re showing off your moves at a wedding reception, feeling the Latin beat at salsa night, or pushing back the coffee table in your living room for a dance workout video, dancing can lift your spirits. But it isn’t just fun, it’s a great way to get some exercise – while not feeling like you are working. And although there are many opportunities to dance socially, it can also be done right in the comfort of your own home.

Seniors may become more sedentary as they age, and extended physical inactivity can lead to health issues and immobility. Dancing is a low-impact cardio workout that can combat those issues by improving heart and lung health, in addition to offering many other benefits.

Five jazzy benefits of dancing for seniors

1. Emotional and Social

Social isolation, often experienced by retired old adults, increases risks of depression and anxiety. According to the CDC, people who are socially isolated are also much more prone to heart disease and stroke as well as 50 percent more likely to develop dementia.

Getting out of the house and joining a class with others can improve your mood and emotional state. Learning couples’-based dances such as ballroom, salsa, etc., gives you an opportunity to meet others, take a friend or loved one with you to learn together, or join up with other singles looking for a dance partner.

2. Balance and Agility

dance class - photo by Zukhra Zholiavskaia, Dreamstime. Seniors Guide examines the benefits of dancing for seniors and suggests ways to access this fun, entertaining, and healthy activity.

In a review of literature on the benefits of dancing for seniors, specifically their physical health, the National Library of Medicine reported that dance increases strength, endurance, balance, and other aspects of functional fitness.

Study participants ranged from 52 to 87 years of age. Many different dance styles were used, including ballroom, contemporary, cultural, pop and jazz. Regardless of the dance style, dance improved functional fitness.

Related: Exercises to maintain balance

3. Weight Management

Dancing burns calories and increases muscle strength. Building lean muscle helps burn fat and tone muscles.

4. Strength and flexibility

Dancing strengthens the core muscles that we use to stabilize our body, which can make joints less susceptible to injury.

5. Increased energy and endurance

When you first begin to dance – or complete any cardiovascular activity – you may find that you tire easily. As you continue the routine, endurance is increased and energy – on and off the dance floor – increases.

Where to shake and shimmy

If you’re sold on the benefits of dancing for seniors, from fun to fitness, but you don’t know where to begin, a quick internet search will help find local options for classes or opportunities for dancing specific to your area.

Look for:

Gyms and clubs

Seniors Guide examines the benefits of dancing for seniors and suggests ways to access this fun, entertaining, and healthy activity.

One of the best places to start is at your local gym. Whether the YMCA or a private facility, there is a good chance that they will have dance exercise classes specific to seniors. On the other hand, dance classes not specific to seniors offer the advantages of intergenerational socialization. Just be sure the class is flexible enough to meet participants’ varying needs, allowing them to ease up when necessary and offering less strenuous options.

Jazzercise and Zumba are two common dance class options specifically targeting exercise through dance. Always feel free to modify movements as needed, especially in the beginning, to meet your specific abilities.

Dance studios

Look for a dance studio that specializes in your preferred style of dance and music. If you enjoy the style of music you are dancing to, you are more likely to enjoy dancing. If you like country music, try line dancing. If you like Latin music, try salsa or bachata. If you prefer classical music, try ballroom dance classes. You might even stumble upon some nostalgic options, like the jitterbug, boogie-woogie, the locomotion, the twist, or disco!

Churches and community groups

Many churches and community recreational centers sponsor senior nights that aim to bring seniors together for a social experience while also getting exercise. Check out Meetup, too, for groups that gather at clubs and other venues for fun and dance.

Stay home!

Search the internet or YouTube for “senior exercise dance at home.” Look for YouTube channels that have a variety of dance videos that will focus on a certain body part, a certain health issue, or a style of music that you enjoy. If you prefer, search for dance instructional videos that will teach you a style of dance, or a specific dance move that you’d like to learn.

There are even chair dancing options for those who have mobility issues. A simple internet search for “chair dancing for seniors” will bring up a listing of videos that you can complete from the comfort of your own home.

So get up and dance! Your heart and soul will thank you!

Kari Smith

Kari Smith is a frequent contributor to Seniors Guide, helping to keep those in the senior industry informed and up-to-date. She's a Virginia native whose love of writing began as a songwriter recording her own music. In addition to teaching music and performing in the Richmond area, Kari also enjoys riding horses and farming.

Kari Smith