Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Dance Your Way to Healthy Aging

NIFS | Senior dancing

Stay active as you age by putting on your dancing shoes! Fred Astaire said “Dancing is a sweat job!” But you don’t have to break a sweat to obtain the benefits of dancing; they have been proven to be unsurpassable. Dancing can be a fun for your residents, it can add a social element to your community, and it's a really good way to keep exercise exciting!

 

Teaching line dancing to seniors has allowed me the opportunity to see firsthand how this exercise provides healthy benefits for the mind as well as the body. Any form of dance would suffice in obtaining these wellness benefits, but if you’re worried that you need a partner, know that line dancing definitely doesn’t require one.


Fitness Benefits of Dancing

Here is a list of some healthy reasons to dance your way to fitness:

  • Improved cardiovascular, muscular strength, and flexibility.
  • Promotes healthy blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and blood sugar.
  • Coordination improves as you work through the different movements.
  • Lung capacity can increase.
  • Bone strength can increase; bone loss can be stopped or slowed down.
  • Assists with weight control—half an hour of continuous line dancing can burn an average of 300 calories.
  • The social aspects of line dancing are obvious. Your sense of well-being and the camaraderie you have with the other dancers is wonderful for your health.

In addition to the above, did you know that dancing is an excellent brain exercise? It integrates several brain functions at once, increasing connectivity. As people age, maintaining memory and continuing to challenge intelligence is a real priority. What better way than to dance? Dancing requires memorizing steps, and that provides mental challenges that are crucial for brain health. Consider the fact that to execute a dance you need to remember the specific steps that flow in a sequence, and the brain has to inform the body how to move in a timely manner.

Not only does the physical aspect of dancing increase blood flow to the brain, but the social aspect of the activity leads to less stress, depression, and loneliness, which can also cause memory issues.

What Dancing Can Do for Your Balance

Dancing is also all about balance. Dancing consists of changing up the steps, arm patterns, formations, speed, and rhythm. All of these factors play a significant role in maintaining balance. Just envision doing the grapevine movement, where you must maintain balance as one leg crosses behind the other all while in motion.

Read our blog [Balance Programs: Are you meeting your residents needs?]

Not to mention that when you are dancing you are also dual-tasking. Dual-tasking has shown to improve gait and balance because everyday life involves doing one or more things simultaneously (walking and talking, or moving forward and looking to the side as examples). Therefore, when you’re moving your feet one way and arms or head the other in a dance routine, you are dual-tasking. Also don’t forget the fact that you’re having to think which steps come next.

Try the Grapevine Movement

Want to get started? Here’s the simple grapevine movement. Safety always comes first. Designate a place where you can reach to hold on if necessary, and modify your movements if crossing one foot behind the other is too challenging.

A grapevine is a series of steps in one direction, stepping to the side. Count 1, 2, 3, 4 to the beat of the music and do the following:

  • Step to the right with the right foot.
  • Cross the left foot behind the right foot. (You can modify by just slightly stepping back and not crossing entirely.)
  • Step right with the right foot, uncrossing your feet.
  • Close your feet together.
  • Repeat stepping to the left with your left foot as well.

See how NIFS Premier Balance Redefined Programming enhances resident wellbeing. Download our Media Kit below.

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Topics: dancing healthy aging improving senior fitness balance training for seniors weight loss depression brain health flexibility bone density

Focusing on Flexibility in Fitness: Stretching’s Role in Workouts

ThinkstockPhotos-607478378.jpgAfter a workout, it’s important to relax your mind and body. A great way to make sure the muscles are relaxed after a workout is to stretch. Many people overlook the importance of flexibility in fitness, not realizing that with improved flexibility you can enhance your workouts.

Even just adding in 5 to 10 minutes of stretching after a workout is better than nothing! You do not have to set aside 30 minutes a day for flexibility; quick sessions after a workout are great to relieve the tension in your muscles. When I stretch after a workout session, I can tell I have a better range of motion, my muscles are pliable, and the stress from the workout eases tremendously. Most mornings when I wake up, it’s a struggle to even be able to touch my toes. With a quick stretch, I am instantly moving better.

Flexibility’s Role in Functional Movement

Flexibility is often overlooked because it’s not something seen as a component of health and wellness. When it comes to exercise, most people are looking to lose weight, run faster, lift heavier weights, and become a stronger person overall. They fail to realize that when you improve your flexibility, you will also increase your workout performance as well as increase your ability to tackle everyday activities (functional fitness).

As we age, we know it becomes increasingly difficult to be as mobile as we were before. Bones become more fragile and muscles tend to lose elasticity. This is where flexibility really comes into play. When you keep up with stretching and loosening those muscles daily with flexibility, you are increasing your body’s range of motion. With a greater range of motion comes the ease of accomplishing everyday activities.

The Best Time to Stretch

When’s the best time to stretch? The best time to static stretch is after a workout. Many of us have been taught that it is important to warm up the muscles with stretching before exercise. Many scientists have determined that is not the case. Stretching the muscles before an intense exercise session can do more harm to them than good; it may actually inhibit the ability for the muscle to fire when it is supposed to.

It is important to warm the muscles up with dynamic movements versus static. Dynamic exercises will activate the reflexes in the muscles and tendons, whereas static stretching is just pulling on the muscles before they are warmed up. Static stretching is best after exercise during recovery because it helps the body cool down from a workout; the muscles are warm from the workout, making them easier to stretch.

Interested in helping your employees move more?  Check out our EBook and how your can help your work force "Fit it In"!

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Topics: stretching flexibility workouts recovery functional movement