DIET&FITNESS Published March8, 2016 By Annie D.

Drop the Workout! Elderly People Benefit From Dancing Salsa and Cha-Cha-Cha

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(Photo : Sean Gallup | Getty Images News)

Latin dance "Bailamos" can help the elderly improve their walking speed and physical activity levels. The new study was done in light of what was observed among older Latinos -always dancing, not setting time for workouts, and yet still capable of walking fast and be physically active.

A study presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology/Lifestyle 2016 Scientific Sessions, asserted that seniors should dance more to improve their physical and mental health. For the older Latinos, exercising is not a familiar concept, but they remain fit because they dance, the lead researcher David Marquez said before starting the research. "Exercising is just not a very familiar concept, but when you look at dancing, it's family parties, going out as young adults ... this is just something they have done and it's a part of their culture," he explained.

 Examining the effects of Latin dance on 54 Spanish-speaking adults 65 years to 74 years of age, for four months in  twice-weekly dance classes at nine local senior centers, community centers, and park buildings, as compared to the same number of seniors under a health education program control group, results showed that dancing has positive payoffs. The participants specifically danced the "Bailamos, a program that included a variety of Latin dances, from merengue, cha-cha-cha, to bachata and salsa. 

Results showed that those who danced under the program can walk faster and can engage in more physical activities during their  leisure time. Those in the health education class only saw minor improvements in their walking speed and physical activity. 

Another recent study revealed that dancing can lower the risk of heart disease by almost 50 percent. The researchers at Western Sydney University found that among people aged over 40, dancing is more beneficial than fast walking. "We saw that dancing not only had the greatest protection against cardiovascular disease, if comparing to walkers for example, they benefited from an additional 21 per cent reduction as compared to walking," lead researcher Professor Dafna Merom said.

Here is a video of some elderly dances that are worth trying:


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