Analysis shows dancing may help prevent falls

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It turns out busting a move may prevent older people from slipping and falling.

That’s according to a meta-analysis published in JAMA Open last month.

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The team, which included study author Michèle Mattle, a movement scientist and doctoral candidate at the University of Zurich, in Switzerland, merged data from 29 clinical trials of more than 4,200 healthy people over the age of 65.

Researchers reviewed studies that involved “dance-based mind-motor activities” that centered on coordinated upright movements, focused on music or rhythm, with unique choreography and social interactions with other people in accord. In other words, the studies focused on dancing, Forbes reported. Researchers analyzed several varieties of dance including ballroom, line dancing, folk dancing, eurythmics and tai chi.

Results showed that there was a 31% decrease in falls and a 37% drop in the risk of falls for people ages 65 and older when reviewing the global trials, according to HealthDay.

“We were positively surprised by the consistency of our results,” Mattle told the website. “Although previous research in the field of falls prevention and exercise was suggesting that interventions, including multitasking activities, are promising falls-prevention strategies, it was unclear if dance-based mind-motor activities would lead to comparable results.”

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Still, there was only a link found between dance and mobility as well as balance and lower body strength in the review. It is not a cause-and-effect relationship. Researchers also concluded that more high-quality trials need to be conducted on dance.

The study included trials from North America along with Asia, Europe and South America. Matte noted that in Europe, many people participate in folk and ballroom dances rather than Tai chi, which has been studied more frequently.

“Our findings now lay an important base for the further development of public health strategies in the field of falls prevention that are accessible for cultures that are not familiar with tai chi but have a cultural bond toward different dance styles,” Mattle said.

Atlanta-based Centers For Disease Control and Prevention states that about 36 million older adults fall each year, which results in over 32,000 deaths. An injury, such as a broken bone or a head injury, occurs in one out of every five falls. Noting that falls are not a normal part of aging, the CDC offers tips on how older adults can prevent falls.

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