Dancing adds zest to life at any age

Clubs and classes span many different styles

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As the saying goes, you’re never too old to dance.

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Whether as part of an organized class or as a romantic or social engagement, dance can be enjoyed at any age. While some mature adults may worry that they are too old to learn new steps or that they might look out of place on a dance floor, dancing has many benefits for participants over 55, helping to keep their body and mind active.

While some dance genres and competitive classes may not appeal to or be appropriate for older adults, there are many programs aimed specifically at seniors, including line dancing or Zumba classes held at various community halls and seniors clubs.

Square dancing or round dancing (a choreographed form of ballroom dancing in which dancers respond to called movements) seems to naturally appeal to older people. They usually arouse the interest of seniors who have been drawn to dancing for years, but who haven’t had time to practice dancing as a hobby.

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“A lot of people were square dancing when they were young and were too busy to get involved until they retired,” says Barrie McCombs, a retired physician who is now heavily involved with Square Dance Calgary. “Now, they’re coming back to that. We have some people coming to our classes to catch up.”

While finally having time to start dancing is an attraction for many older participants, there are other benefits that attract people to dance later in life. Paula Bickford, who runs Dance Through Life, a local dance studio that exclusively caters to adult dancers, says most of her clientele fall into the 35-65 age group, although she teaches many beginning dancers who are even older. .

Dance Through Life offers everything from beginner ballet and Canadian step dance to tap and burlesque, and Bickford says he has older clients signing up for nearly every discipline.

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“Many of my students love the mental health benefits,” says Bickford. “It comes with that social aspect of making friends and the laughter they have in class, and the music encourages the feel-good endorphins. It’s a mood boost and gives them a wonderful social outlet.”

Bickford mentions that some students claim that memorizing dance sequences helped them stay mentally sharp, citing a 2003 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that linked leisure activities like dancing with a reduced risk of dementia. McCombs says he’s seen similar benefits with his gang buddies.

“Particularly in the gang, there’s an additional mental challenge where you have to be able to follow the caller’s commands,” says McCombs. “We have a list of 80 moves in modern western square dance and it becomes like a game of chess. There’s that challenge of staying alert.”

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Dance styles like the ones Bickford offers, as well as fitness-based dance programs and things like line dancing tend to be popular with older adults as they don’t require a partner, making them accessible to students who have become widowed or have a spouse who may have mobility issues or is simply not interested in dancing.

When choosing a class, Bickford says participants should consider factors such as physical difficulty (some dances can be harder on the joints than you might think) and musical preference. As most non-competitive beginner classes are quite forgiving, she advises people not to worry about age and just embrace the joys that come with dancing.

“Find a group that is comfortable and encouraging,” says Bickford. “Another great benefit of dancing is that people really feel their confidence improve in classes with a pleasant supportive environment. You get that low-impact move with a confidence boost as you giggle and move your body. ”

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division.

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