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Pensioners dance their way to improved health

Pensioners dance their way to improved health

Greek dancing has been found to have major health benefits for the older generation, a new study has found.

The over 70s were around when dance crazes like The Twist and The Jive exploded onto the scene, but most won’t have kept up with routines as they’ve grown older.

However, researchers at Aristotle University in Greece have studied pensioners who suffered from chronic heart disease and found those who took up traditional Greek dancing, can jump higher and walk faster than those who shun the moves.

Exercise physiologist Zacharias Vordos and his team looked at a test group of 40 Greek participants, with an average age of 73, who had all suffered from heart issues and hadn’t exercised in the past year. They were split into two groups; the first took part in a three month rehabilitation programme based on traditional Greek dancing while the second continued with no exercise. The Greek dancing sessions lasted for 40 to 65 minutes once a week.

At the start of the study the patients were tested on their ability to jump, leg muscle strength and walking ability. No differences were found between the two sub groups, but after three months the dancers were 10 per cent stronger than those who took no exercise, jumped 10 per cent higher, and were 6 per cent faster. Results showed the sedentary group demonstrated no change.

“The physical benefits of Greek dancing should give patients more independence in daily life by helping them to walk and climb stairs,” Zacharias said.

“It should also improve their coordination and reduce their risk of falling and being injured. It is possible that Greek dancing also gives cardiac benefit as demonstrated by Zumba fitness programmes with Latin music.”

The traditional dance was chosen because Greek dancing is an important part of weddings and other celebrations, and is popular among older people.

The study has been published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing.

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