45 to 50 percent of Canadian adults are living sedentary lifestyles. Meaning that chronically, long periods of time are spent inactive. The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines tell us that we need 150 minutes of aerobic physical activity that is moderate to vigorous per week but very few older adults are actually meeting that goal. We know that exercise is good for our health, but the challenge is implementation and adherence. We don’t know how to start, and if we do start, we don’t stick to it.

Why is that? Well, there are many barriers, including physical limitations, medical conditions, low self-efficacy (believing in your ability to be successful in performance), and time.

Tailored dance classes that help overcome some of these barriers are now beginning to pop up, Active Health Solutions’ Dancing for Brain Health being one of them. It is designed specifically for people with Parkinson’s, Dementia, Alzheimer’s, those recovering from a stroke, and even those who are seeking preventative measures. Having a group of people with commonalities will create an atmosphere where people can be encouraged by witnessing others with similarities to themselves having a successful experience in an activity. The class also involves somatic based practice that allows the individual to feel the movements in their own bodies. Since everyone’s body is different, there is no wrong way to feel the movement.

Dance is now at the forefront of many research projects. How a person can benefit from dance is becoming more and more prominent in academia. We are now beginning to recognize the complexities that dance embodies and what they do for us.

Some of what the research is saying about dance is that its social climate, rhythmic connections, and full and coinciding full-body movements:

- Increase mood

- Decrease depression

- Increase quality of life

- Increase physical ability

- Increase neural activity

- Increase balance and control

- Show positive changes in brain connectivity (basal ganglia to the cortical areas)

- Show improvements in gait, balance, tremor and quality of life for persons with Parkinson’s

- Decrease stress and anxiety

This is not all, as those who dance also reap the physiological benefits of being more active. Such as reducing the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Now wouldn’t it be awesome if you could leave the Doctor’s office with a prescription for a dance class?

~ Kaitlin Jamieson


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