Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Dancing your falls away

Ballroom dancing robots being used
as a partner for the elderly in Japan.
By Third Uncle on Flickr.

Foxtrot, salsa, rumba! Twice weekly ballroom dancing classes for senior citizens could bring back the balance and strength needed to prevent falls in elderly Australians, according to University of Sydney researchers. Dr Dafna Merom says it is widely acknowledged that falls are one of the most common health problems among older people, and a NHMRC funded study has the potential to reduce the incidence of falls for elderly Australians by as much 37%. "We know that formal exercise programs, particularly those that include balance challenging training, can help prevent falls, but formal training exercises may not be the best way to optimise results. There are promising alternatives," she says. Dr Merom is aiming to introduce classic ballroom dance routines as twice-weekly recreational activities at 13 aged care centres and retirement villages across Sydney. Often described as "old time dancing", Merom says these classic dances have the right moves and more.

The multi-centre study will include researchers from the University of Sydney, University of Western Sydney, Australian National University, and the University of Hong Kong. The researchers are aiming to recruit 450 older adults who will be engaged in the dance program, which will run for a year.

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