Mastering Dance Movement Patterns Can Improve Memory

Published April 21, 2016 in the Harvard Health Publications, the article confirms that research shows dance has numerous health benefits for all ages. Dance reduces fat, builds muscle and bone, increases aerobic capacity and lowers blood pressure among other health benefits. Moreover, dance incorporates the power of music! “Music stimulates the brain’s reward centers, while dance activates its sensory and motor circuits.” Some studies have shown that the mastery of patterns of movement improves memory and problem-solving more so than walking.

In my experience as founder of Vitality Ballet, I’ve noticed how challenging it is for sedentary seniors to put together seemingly simple patterns of movement. In fact, when I first launched it caught me off guard how a series of clapping, counting and marching could pose such a challenge. What I found is this challenge is met by participants in one of two ways: some thrive and enjoy while others feel discouraged and defeated. Creating an experience in which our clients can thrive is key to encouraging seniors to be open to new adaptive exercise concepts, such as chair ballet.

Dr. Lauren Elson is a former professional dancer who specializes in sports and rehabilitation medicine at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Network. In the Harvard Health Publications article, she suggests dancing as a form of exercise that everyone can take part in- either from a chair or standing. Dr. Elson says, “It’s a way to connect to your own body, to music, and to other people. It just depends on whatever your goals are. But we know that there are so many benefits of dancing — cognitive, physical, and social — that it merits consideration by everybody.”

Our goal is to keep seniors moving, even right from their chairs. More and more research like this article is emerging showing that dancing can offer serious benefits for aging adults. Enticing seniors into the exercise class can take some persuasion, but fun music and creating an environment for success always keeps them coming back.


Source: Harvard Health Publications  Let’s dance! Rhythmic motion can improve your health