Study confirms why dance is key to happy and healthy aging

dance and aging

Image supplied: QUT

Ballet is not for the faint hearted. It’s known to be one of the most physically challenging and advanced dance styles, which is why a Queensland University chose to investigate its unique effects on seniors.

In collaboration with Queensland Ballet, The University of Queensland conducted Australia’s first ever study into the benefits of ballet.

What they found is that participants experienced higher energy levels, greater flexibility, improved posture, and an enhanced sense of achievement.

The older Australians involved in the study also felt happier and enjoyed a sense of community and friendship.

How they conducted the study

  • 10 participants took part in Ballet for Seniors classes over a three-month period in Brisbane;
  • Participants completed a wellbeing questionnaire at the beginning and end of the three-month period;
  • Participants also took part in focus groups throughout the three-month period.

Queensland Ballet Director of Strategy and Global Engagement, Felicity Mandile, said the project aimed to provide a detailed understanding of the motivations and experiences of ballet class participants.

“The project critically investigated older adults’ motivations to participate in ballet, the health and wellbeing outcomes for active older adults, and the examination of the teaching practices involved in this delivery,” Felicity said.

The promising results researchers found

The research findings strongly indicated that ballet participation was considered to be a highly pleasurable activity for active older adults. Therefore, ballet participants common emotional experiences were a love of ballet, enjoyment, feeling a sense of achievement, and increased happiness.

The participation in the sport gave people a weekly social engagement within a supportive, non-competitive, and non-judgemental community of like-minded people.

“We weren’t surprised by the research findings strongly indicating that ballet participation is considered to be a highly pleasurable activity for active older adults, we were pleasantly surprised by the flow on effects of that,” said Felicity.

“It found that ballet participation may contribute to positive outcomes across various health and wellbeing categories and promotes a general feeling of wellbeing.”

QUT study finds dance benefits aging

Image supplied: QUT

The key benefit for aging

Performance psychologist and former professional ballet dancer Professor Gene Moyle said movement was a critical factor in better ageing.

“The physical benefits of movement and dance on ageing bodies is well documented. It also highlights the joy and benefits social connections in dance can bring to people’s lives,” Prof. Moyle said.

“Some of the participants reported that they found the classes positively euphoric and transformational in the pleasure they felt at being part of such weekly social engagement.”

The now publicly available program includes Ballet for Seniors classes which run weekly including a specialist Dance for Parkinson’s class specifically designed specifically for people living with Parkinson’s Disease.