Review: Physical benefits of dancing for older adults

Physical Benefits of Dancing for Healthy Older Adults: A Review. 2009. Justin W.L. Keogh, Andrew Kilding, Philippa Pidgeon, Linda Ashley, and Dawn Gillis. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 2009, 17, 1-23.

Abstract: “Dancing is a mode of physical activity that may allow older adults to improve their physical function, health, and well-being. However, no reviews on the physical benefits of dancing for healthy older adults have been published in the scientific literature. Using relevant databases and keywords, 15 training and 3 cross-sectional studies that met the inclusion criteria were reviewed. Grade B–level evidence indicated that older adults can significantly improve their aerobic power, lower body muscle endurance, strength and flexibility, balance, agility, and gait through dancing. Grade C evidence suggested that dancing might improve older adults’ lower body bone-mineral content and muscle power, as well as reduce the prevalence of falls and cardiovascular health risks. Further research is, however, needed to determine the efficacy of different forms of dance, the relative effectiveness of these forms of dance compared with other exercise modes, and how best to engage older adults in dance participation.

“Keywords: dance, exercise, falls, functional ability”


Well-being and dance movement therapy interventions (including dance improvisation)

Specific dance movement therapy interventions – which are successful? An intervention and correlation study.
Iris Bräuninger. The Arts in Psychotherapy, Available online 19 August 2014, In Press, Accepted Manuscript. *Article does not have free open access.


•Specific DMT [Dance Movement Therapy] interventions could be identified that relate to the improvement of well-being.
•Dance Improvisation, Spatial and Effort Synchrony, and working with a Focus were effective individual DMT interventions.
•Improvement of QOL [Quality of Life], coping, stress with Psychodynamic, Chace DMT, directive-non-directive Leading and Interpersonal Closure.
•A small number of specific DMT interventions should be used cautiously until further research proves their effectiveness.
•970 intervention checklists on individual and 120 on group DMT interventions were analyzed.”

Abstract: “This intervention study examines the correlation between specific DMT interventions and the improvement in quality of life, stress management, and stress reduction. Dance therapists (N = 11) filled out 970x Intervention Checklist 1 (specific interventions at the individual level) and 120x Intervention Checklist 2 (specific interventions at the group level) while leading 10 sessions. Individual level therapists’ scoring of the Intervention Checklists were correlated with individual level clients’ scoring from the standardized questionnaires of the treatment group (n= 97). Therapists worked successfully when applying a self-selected approach and mixing in-depth DMT approaches and specific interventions. The findings show that a relationship exists between clients’ improvement in Quality of Life, coping, reduction of Stress and the use of Psychodynamic-oriented DMT, Chace approach, a combination of a Directive/Non-Directive Leadership Style, and an Interpersonal Closure. Clients’ Daily Life improved and Somatization symptoms decreased when Dance Improvisation, Spatial Synchrony, Synchrony in Efforts and working with a Focus were used. Results indicate that specific DMT interventions could be identified that relate to the improvement of well-being while some single DMT interventions should be used cautiously until further research proves their effectiveness. There is a continuing need to identify successful specific DMT interventions in future studies.”

Physical activity in preventing and managing Alzheimer’s disease

The Role of Physical Activity in the Prevention and Management of Alzheimer’s Disease—Implications for Ontario. Ontario Brain Institute. (2013).

“Approach: To better understand how physical activity can contribute to the prevention and management of Alzheimer’s disease, 871 research articles were reviewed. After closer inspection and quality scoring, 24 randomized control trials and 21 prospective cohort studies examining physical activity and Alzheimer’s disease were selected for further analysis.

“Results: Within older adults with Alzheimer’s disease, regular physical activity improved quality of life (QOL), activities of daily living (ADL), and decreased the occurrence of depression. In older adults without Alzheimer’s disease, those who were very physically active were almost 40% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as those who were inactive. At the population level, it was observed that more than 1 in 7 cases of Alzheimer’s disease could be prevented if everyone who is currently inactive were to become physically active at a level consistent with current activity recommendations. On this basis, potential cost-savings (~$88 to $970 million CDN per year) in healthcare for community-dwelling older adults with Alzheimer’s disease are substantial.” (page 2)

Review of dance therapy for schizophrenia

Dance therapy for schizophrenia. 2013. Juanjuan Ren, Jun Xia. Editorial Group: Cochrane Schizophrenia Group. Published Online: 4 OCT 2013; Assessed as up-to-date: 10 JUL 2012.


Plain Language Summary written by Ben Gray:

“The first line of treatment of schizophrenia is usually antipsychotic drugs. Usually, these drugs are more effective in treating the ‘positive symptoms’ than ‘negative symptoms’ of schizophrenia. Moreover, antipsychotic drugs have debilitating side-effects such as weight gain, shaking, tremors and muscle stiffness.

“Dance therapy (also known as dance movement therapy, DMT) uses movement and dance to explore a person’s emotions in a non-verbal way (without language or words). The therapist helps the individual to interpret their dance and movement and link them with people’s personal feelings. Dance has been used as a healing ritual since earliest human history, but the establishment of dance therapy as a profession is quite recent. Dance therapy can be used with people of all ages, races and genders. It can be effective in the treatment of people with medical, social, developmental, physical and psychological impairments. The review included one study with 45 participants. The aim was to compare dance therapy with standard care or other interventions. The one included study compared dance therapy plus routine care with routine care alone. In the main, there was no difference between those who engaged in dance therapy versus those who did not (for outcomes such as satisfaction with care, mental state, leaving the study early, quality of life). However, those who engaged in dance therapy showed significant improvement in negative symptoms. 

“Overall, because of the small number of participants, the findings are limited. There is little evidence to support or refute the use of dance therapy. Larger studies and trials are needed that focus on important outcomes (such as rates of relapse, quality of life, admission to hospital, leaving the study early, cost of care and satisfaction with treatment). Further research would help clarify whether dance therapy is an effective and holistic treatment for people with schizophrenia, especially in terms of helping people cope with negative symptoms that do not respond so well to antipsychotic drugs.

“This summary was written by a consumer Ben Gray (Benjamin Gray, Service User and Service User Expert Rethink Mental Illness,”