Dancing Improves Health of Elderly

April 30, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. elderly / ˈɛl dər li / (n.) – people who are at the later stages of life
Example: Special health programs must be designed for the elderly.

2. sedentary / ˈsɛd nˌtɛr i / (adj.) – not physically active
Example: A person who leads a sedentary life is at risk for obesity.

3. lifestyle / ˈlaɪfˌstaɪl / (n.) – the way someone lives, which may refer to their habits, beliefs, economic status, etc.
Example: People who grew up in different cultures may have different lifestyles.

4. trial / ˈtraɪ əl / (n.) – a test that is used to gather data on something
Example: The participants went through several trials for the study.

5. attune to / əˈtun tu / (phrasal v.) – to adjust accordingly to be compatible with something
Example: The dances were attuned to the tastes of the children.


Read the text below.
A new study from the University of Illinois at Chicago has found that dancing improves the physical health of the elderly.

The study involved 57 sedentary Latin Americans in their mid-60s. The research was conducted to find out whether a health program that features various Latin dances would be effective in promoting a healthy lifestyle among older Latinos.

The participants were divided into two groups. The first group participated in a dance program called BAILAMOS. They attended dance classes twice a week, where they were taught four different Latin dances. On the other hand, the second group only attended health education classes. Both programs lasted four months.

The physical activity level of the participants was measured through a questionnaire and a walking test before and after the programs. The questionnaire revealed that while both groups became more physically active after the programs, the group who attended dance classes was more active than those who only took health education classes.

The first group also showed greater improvement on the walking test than the second group. They finished a 400-meter walk 38 seconds faster than their previous trial, while the second group finished only 10 seconds faster.

The study’s lead author Priscilla Vásquez, M.P.H. said that programs like BAILAMOS, which are fun and attuned to one’s culture, could have significant health effects, because they engage participants physically, culturally and emotionally.

One of dancing’s emotional benefits is stress reduction. In fact, some of the participants reportedly said that the dance classes helped relieve their stress. This supports a study published in Psychology Today that revealed how dancing can make the body release hormones called endorphins, which reduce stress.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What other activities could be appropriate for the elderly? Discuss.
·         What precautions must the elderly take when choosing their physical activities?

Discussion B

·         Knowing the benefits of dance classes, would you sign up for one? Why or why not?
·         What is the best age for people to start being more physically active? Why?

April 30, 2016