As you near the age of 65, your doctor may ask you if you have fallen. The reason? More than 25% of people aged 65 and over fall every year. Exercises that strengthen leg muscles and improve balance can help prevent falls. While tai chi has long been known to improve balance and reduce the risk of falls, new research shows that choreographed types of ballroom dances can offer similar benefits.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that seniors who participated in dance-based mind-motor activities fell 31% less than those in the control groups. The researchers looked at 29 clinical studies that looked at how activities such as rhythm, memory of steps, and coordinated movement affected the risk of falls in seniors. The study found that certain activities like tai chi and dance styles like folk and ballroom dancing reduced the risk of falls by 37%. The study’s researchers defined dance-based mind-motors as activities that “involve mind-motor movements that emphasize dynamic balance”: participants moved to the music or their own breathing; received instructions; and were socially interacting.

The study also looked at whether the participants’ physical fitness improved. The researchers found that dance-based mental-motor activities were associated with better balance, improved mobility, and increased lower body strength.

While the basis for this study was undoubtedly gratifying to the participants, the reason for doing it by the researchers was grave. A fall can result in broken bones, an arm, wrist, ankle, or hip, or even traumatic brain injury. TBI can cause long-term complications, such as personality changes, memory problems, vision or hearing problems, or even death.

Some of the risk factors that can increase your chances of falling:

Vitamin D deficiency

Lower body weakness and balance disorders

Difficulty seeing

The wrong shoes

Medicines that cause drowsiness or dizziness

Household hazards, such as B. slippery carpets, objects on the floor or stairs that are difficult to drive on

Ask your doctor for a fall risk assessment to avoid falls. You may learn about changes you can make to reduce the risk of falls, such as: B. wearing supportive shoes or balance exercises. Ask if you should be taking a vitamin D supplement, and if any of your medicines or supplements might make you sleepy or dizzy. If you’re worried about a fall, say so.

And it’s a good idea to see an ophthalmologist every year.

You want a good vision to help you choose a dance partner.

Take them home

Take a choreographed dance or tai chi class to improve your balance, physical strength and mobility. As long as your doctor gives you the green light, learning a new dance routine can be a fun way to meet people and reduce the chance of a fall. Look for online courses where you can virtually learn with other people.

For more information on preventing falls, see the National Council on Aging. They provide fall prevention resources, including finding a fall prevention program in your area.

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