Darcey Bussell - older people get fit via dance

DARCEY BUSSELL ENCOURAGES OLDER PEOPLE TO GET FIT THROUGH DANCE

ROYAL ACADEMY OF DANCE LAUNCHES DANCE FOR LIFELONG WELLBEING

Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell is encouraging older people to get fit through dance. She is backing a new programme of nationwide dance classes for older novice dancers, recently launched by the Royal Academy of Dance. 

The classes cover a multitude of styles for all capabilities, from ballet and tap to chair based dance, classic ballroom and musical theatre.

Darcey Bussell said: “It is so important that we get more mature people dancing both in London and across the UK as a way to keep healthy in body and soul, as displayed by the RAD’s Dance for Lifelong Wellbeing pilot studies.  Whether you are tackling simple ballet steps or seated routines, dance can offer something for everyone at whatever level of agility. Moreover, dance classes are a fantastic way to socialise with other people in a fun and friendly environment, which is important at any age!"

The lessons were set up in response to a study (funded by the Skills Funding Agency in 2013), which highlighted the physical and mental benefits of dance amongst older people ranging from their mid 50s to 100s. The results were published in a report entitled Dance for Lifelong Wellbeing.

About the Dance for Lifelong Wellbeing Report

The year’s activities follow on from the RAD’s 2013 Dance for Lifelong Wellbeing pilot scheme, which was partly funded by the Community Learning and Innovations Fund.  The scheme facilitated six RAD teachers to be trained in working with older adults and to deliver classes in a variety of community settings.  Their experiences were documented in the Project Report (July 2013).  In the first phase of the scheme, 80% of the learners declared they were over 75 years old and the oldest participant was 102. He was one of eleven learners aged over 90 who joined in the classes. Classes on the pilot Dance for Lifelong Wellbeing project were offered across Wandsworth, Kensington and Lambeth and this year, Wandsworth Council will be continue to bring dance classes to their older residents funded by Wandsworth Lifelong Learning.

Benefits of dance for adult learners (sources available in the Project Report):

Dance as a holistic physical activity has the capacity to positively impact the human being on every level: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, at any stage of life.

If we consider our aging population, it is even more vital that the adults are encouraged to take up a form of dance.  By 2020 it is predicted that 20% of the UK population will be 65+ and that one in four of us alive today will live to be over 100 thanks to basic advances in nutrition, hygiene and medicine. The focus of research on old age now becomes not simply about understanding longevity but finding solutions to improve quality of life.

Scientific research has established that 75% of the factors affecting quality of life and longevity are lifestyle related and only 25% are in fact hereditary.  It is therefore clear that dance, along with other physical activities, is important for a good quality of life. Recent research now positions dance ahead of other physical activity in terms of the extent of its health promoting benefits including:

  • Improving balance thereby minimizing falls
  • Calming the immune system thereby slowing deterioration and ageing
  • Promoting new synapse connection and increasing cognitive reserve at any age

 Research by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine shows dance to be the most effective physical activity to ward off deterioration of the brain and dementia. Dance scored 76% in this study in comparison to other physical activities such as cycling, swimming, and golf, which scored 0% improvement.

 Photo credit: Charlotte Macmillan
Content credited to: Midas Public Relations March 2014