It’s official: dance keeps us strong and social into older age

In people over 65 years of age, falls represent the most frequent and serious form of accident, costing the NHS £2.3 billion per year and leading to reduced mobility and isolation from friends and family. Now, thanks to a survey leading to a new report published by AESOP and People Dancing, which was presented to the House of Lords in November 2016, it is officially recognised that dance provides a creative solution. The survey was borne out of Dance to Health, a pilot programme that saw South East Dance offer dance and movement sessions to more than 980 older people in 2015/16. While 40% of people complete regular falls prevention exercise programmes, a fantastic 73% of those who took part in Dance to Health finished the course, benefiting from a range of health, artistic and social benefits.

Jamie Watton, Executive Director of South East Dance, says: “Given that by 2024, the population of a quarter of all UK local authority areas will include 25% over 65 year olds, it’s time that dance is placed right at the heart of health and wellbeing programmes.”

One Dance to Health participant said: “At 83 many avenues are beginning to close down. My family – children and even grandchildren - are all, thank goodness, independent beings and are scattered far and wide. My professional career is over. Even my vocabulary is shrinking and most of the things I love to eat and drink are ‘out of bounds’. But the [group] is opening doors and whole vistas I never dreamed of as a younger woman. It is a huge part of my life."

Whatever your age, if you’d like to find out about dance classes near you, take a look at South East Dance’s The Other Yellow Pages.

Dance To Health, Abingdon. Image © Helen Murray

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