It Gives Me Purpose: The Use of Dance with People Experiencing Homelessness. 2010. Melissa Knestaut, Mary Ann Devine, Barbara Verlezza. Therapeutic Recreation Journal Vol. 44 No. 10.
Abstract: “According to the National Coalition for the Homeless (2009), there are approximately 1.35 million people who experience homelessness on any given day. Psycho-social issues that these individuals must address to survive daily vary, but most common are depression, stress, alienation, lack of continuity in their life, and uncertainty of their future. Engagement in leisure is one way to reduce the various psycho-social consequences of homelessness. Thus, the purpose of this case report is to discuss the benefits of a leisure activity, specifically a structured dance class for adults experiencing homelessness. The intent of the class was to decrease stress, increase positive feelings, encourage self-determination, and learn how dance can be used as a coping mechanism. Dance was used as a context for coping with stress and other effects of homelessness. Results indicated that participants experienced an increase in positive effects and a decrease in negative effects after participating in the dance class.”
Keywords: Dance, homelessness, leisure, self-determination, stress
Six months of dance intervention enhances postural, sensorimotor, and cognitive performance in elderly without affecting cardio-respiratory functions. 2013. Kattenstroth JC, Kalisch T, Holt S, Tegenthoff M, Dinse HR. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. 2013 Feb 26; 5:5.
Abstract: “During aging, sensorimotor, cognitive and physical performance decline, but can improve by training and exercise indicating that age-related changes are treatable. Dancing is increasingly used as an intervention because it combines many diverse features making it a promising neuroplasticity-inducing tool. We here investigated the effects of a 6-month dance class (1 h/week) on a group of healthy elderly individuals compared to a matched control group (CG). We performed a broad assessment covering cognition, intelligence, attention, reaction time, motor, tactile, and postural performance, as well as subjective well-being and cardio-respiratory performance. After 6 months, in the CG no changes, or further degradation of performance was found. In the dance group, beneficial effects were found for dance-related parameters such as posture and reaction times, but also for cognitive, tactile, motor performance, and subjective well-being. These effects developed without alterations in the cardio-respiratory performance. Correlation of baseline performance with the improvement following intervention revealed that those individuals, who benefitted most from the intervention, were those who showed the lowest performance prior to the intervention. Our findings corroborate previous observations that dancing evokes widespread positive effects. The pre-post design used in the present study implies that the efficacy of dance is most likely not based on a selection bias of particularly gifted individuals. The lack of changes of cardio-respiratory fitness indicates that even moderate levels of physical activity can in combination with rich sensorimotor, cognitive, social, and emotional challenges act to ameliorate a wide spectrum of age-related decline.”
“KEYWORDS: VO2max; balance; cognition; dance therapy; enriched environment; intervention; sensorimotor; successful aging”
Superior Sensory, Motor, and Cognitive Performance in Elderly Individuals with Multi-Year Dancing Activities. 2010. Jan-Christoph Kattenstroth, Izabella Kolankowska, Tobias Kalisch, and Hubert R. Dinse. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. 2010; 2: 31.
Abstract: “Aging is associated with a progressive decline of mental and physical abilities. Considering the current demographic changes in many civilizations there is an urgent need for measures permitting an independent lifestyle into old age. The critical role of physical exercise in mediating and maintaining physical and mental fitness is well-acknowledged. Dance, in addition to physical activity, combines emotions, social interaction, sensory stimulation, motor coordination and music, thereby creating enriched environmental conditions for human individuals. Here we demonstrate the impact of multi-year (average 16.5 years) amateur dancing (AD) in a group of elderly subjects (aged 65–84 years) as compared to education-, gender- and aged-matched controls (CG) having no record of dancing or sporting activities. Besides posture and balance parameters, we tested reaction times, motor behavior, tactile and cognitive performance. In each of the different domains investigated, the AD group had a superior performance as compared to the non-dancer CG group. Analysis of individual performance revealed that the best participants of the AD group were not better than individuals of the CG group. Instead, the AD group lacked individuals showing poor performance, which was frequently observed for the CG group. This observation implies that maintaining a regular schedule of dancing into old age can preserve cognitive, motor and perceptual abilities and prevent them from degradation. We conclude that the far-reaching beneficial effects found in the [amateur dancing] group make dance, beyond its ability to facilitate balance and posture, a prime candidate for the preservation of everyday life competence of elderly individuals.”
“Keywords: aging, dance, successful aging, plasticity, neurotrophic factors, intervention, seniors, enriched environment”