Dancing can be a great form of exercise for people of all ages. Senior citizens who want to be more active may find certain types of dance that provide a low-impact workout to be more suited to their physical needs, such as line dancing, chair dancing or tai chi, which uses slow, dance-like movements. Although these exercises are generally considered to be safe, it is best to consult with your physician before beginning any new exercise program.
Seated exercise -- chair dancing -- choreographs a variety of dance moves that can be performed without leaving the chair. Types of dances include tap, country, Charleston, tango and polka. You dance the moves while you are seated comfortably and securely, a form of exercise recommended for people whose physical condition limits their range of motion, and for those who cannot perform traditional gym workouts. Benefits include total body toning, improved posture and balance, stronger bones and muscles, improved flexibility, greater stamina, more confidence, less stress and lowered risks for depression, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. (see reference 4)
Line dancing is low-to-moderate impact and causes little stress on the joints. It has the added advantage of not requiring a partner, so you can join a class and make a few new friends while you learn a few new moves. The AARP points out that dancing is as good for your brain as it is for your body. You have to recall the steps and sequences as you mark the beat and move in sync with the other dancers. No time for slackers -- and a 150-lb. adult will burn about 150 calories for every half hour engaged in moderate-exertion dance exercise. A one-hour class might teach a single line dance -- the aerobic level varies so check out how intense the moves are and sign up for a session that matches your fitness level. You might cha-cha to a Latin beat, step smart to a country lament, soul, slide, stomp or shuffle. (see references 2, 3)
Tai chi is a safe, low-impact exercise that has many proven health benefits. The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation states that tai chi may help seniors to combat the fear of falling, a common fear among those over the age of 65. The movements of tai chi encourage body awareness, improved posture and better coordination and balance. The graceful mind-body exercise lowers the risk for high blood pressure, builds muscle and physical strength, and improves cardiovascular function. The intense mental focus necessary to execute the moves fluently and properly enhances mental clarity and promotes a sense of calmness. Head for a local park in the early morning to join an al fresco tai chi class with an instructor who can provide feedback to get you rocking some smooth moves. (see reference 5)
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.