If you’re looking for a fun way to work out with big benefits, move to the music! In a study published in the 2014 issue of Geriatric Nursing, older adults who took a 45-minute dance therapy class twice a week reported less knee and hip pain and were able to walk faster after three months. “This may help to prevent falls and keep people functional and independent,” says study author Jean Krampe, PhD, RN, CPHQ, assistant professor of nursing at Saint Louis University.
Dancing strengthens muscles, and the music stirs happy thoughts, says Krampe. “People are more likely to keep up with an exercise program that’s enjoyable.” Dancing is great exercise at any age. The key is finding the right style. “Arthritis patients should look for a low-impact class with slow, fluid movements that won’t tax your joints,” says Sarah Smith, a physical therapist at Loyola University Medical Center in Illinois. Here are five styles worth trying:
Specifically designed for older adults, this program modifies traditional Zumba’s aerobic dance choreography so that it’s low-intensity.
Graceful styles like the waltz and some tangos can be done in ways that avoid stress on the joints. “Just wear comfortable shoes instead of the high-heeled ballroom shoes,” advises Smith.
Lebed Method (Healthy Steps)
This gentle form of dance therapy features low-impact moves to increase range of motion, strength and endurance. Instructors can modify the workout to be done in a chair.
This Middle Eastern dance’s hip movements can help strengthen your core, and there are gentle versions. However, check with your doctor first, especially if you have hip trouble.
This modified form of Jazzercise eliminates the jumping and bouncing and slows the pace for a lower-impact class.