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Why it’s good for seniors to strut their stuff on the dance floor

"Many of them have improved with healthy exercise."

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Dance coordinator Charlie Armitage leads the class. (Lee McLean via SWNS)

By Douglas Whitbread via SWNS

Hot-footed seniors are being urged to strut their stuff on the dance floor after studies showed movement classes cut falls by more than HALF.

Twinkle-toed pensioners from across the UK are being given the option to take up the lessons, which organizers say could save the NHS billions.

The initiative, which is called Dance to Health and was originally created by the charity Aesop, sees men and women over 65 completing training once a week.

And during these sessions, led by professional dance artists, participants strengthen their physiques, which prevents them getting serious injuries by toppling over.

Fragility fractures cost the NHS an estimated £4.4 billion a year, but a study conducted by Sheffield Hallam University showed there was a 57 percent reduction in falls among participants.

And their analysis also revealed that A&E attendance among those who took classes was just 13 percent, compared with the national average of 35 percent.

Dance teachers say the classes improves confidence and activity rates amongst pensioners and also reduces isolation.

Annie Brabban, 69, who’s been taking part in the classes for roughly four years, said she was finally able to lift up her only grandchild following the classes.

“It’s due to Dance to Health that I’ve been able to lift my little grandson and dance with him. I enjoy all of it, and all the routines that we do every week," she said.

“I started about four years ago, to help with my hips. It made me appreciate how stiff I was.

“Some of the music is from our generation. It’s just a delight. The classes themselves are great, and everybody enjoys it.”

The scheme, which charity Aesop first piloted in around 2015, proposed an “arts-based solution” to tackle fall risks, and the associated cost to the NHS, for older citizens.

And now the classes, costing a maximum of £7 per session, are available to retirees in gyms and sports halls up and down the country through their local NHS partnership.

Seniors attend Dance to Health dance class. (Lee McLean via SWNS)
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A third of adults over 65 and half of those over 80 will have at least one fall a year, leading to roughly 150,000 admissions to stretched A&E departments.

But James Sanderson, NHS Director of Community, Health and Personalized Care, said the courses were “proven” to stop the likelihood of these dangerous tumbles

Finding innovative solutions to help keep people well is what social prescribing is all about," he said.

"Dance to Health represents a fantastic program which is proven to reduce the likelihood of falls.

“It combines evidence-based movement to increase strength and balance, with the added bonus of using music, dance and a creating real sense of community to make the classes fun for everyone."

Jenny Johnson, Dance to Health Program Manager, said the classes were also designed to be fun, with the strengthening exercises “smuggled” into them.

"We have trained dance artists in posture and stability instruction, which is what physios do," she said.

“They smuggle these into a dance session, and what we end up having is community-based sessions, so they’re in your local sports hall or sports center.

“People come along every week and have a really enjoyable, creative session, and while there, they are doing strength and balance exercises, but they don’t realize it.”

“All the sessions are different, and all the original dance backgrounds are quite different.

"But one thing they all have in common is that they work with the participants to formulate the dance sessions.

“We always ask new people what their favorite music is and favorite dance is, and then the trainers will try and fit that in.”

Seniors attend Dance to Health dance class. (Lee McLean via SWNS)

Dance teacher Charlotte Armitage said: "All the research finds that it raises activity levels, boosts confidence, reduces the likelihood of falls and also it reduces isolation.

"We have people with a range of conditions such as high blood pressure, COPD and heart conditions, a real range of conditions, some of which are related to getting older.

"Many of them have improved with healthy exercise.

"People use the guidance from their health professionals and can join in standing or seated or can travel across the space. Whatever suits them.

"There's no judgement and there's no pressure for people to do anything they can't do."

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