Background: Falls in the UK’s aging population is a serious health concern that must be addressed. Exercise can reduce risk factors that increase older adults’ risk of falls, such as deficits in balance, mobility and gait parameters. However, 28 % of adults aged 55-74 and 52 % aged 75+ remain inactive. Dance has been found to appeal to older adults as a fun form of exercise compared to standard forms, yet there is limited research to determine if dance can reduce risk factors. This study investigated the effect of a 12-week dance intervention on fall-related risk factors.
Methods: Twenty-one older adults (mean age = 78.0 ± 2.4 years; 19 females) completed one 60-minute mixed-genre dance session per week for 12 weeks. Fall-related risk factors including balance and mobility (Timed Up and Go (TUG) time) and gait parameters (average double support (ADS) and average stride length (ASL)), were measured before (T1) and after (T2) the intervention by the Quantitative TUG test.
Results: TUG time and ADS decreased from T1 (15.35 ± 1.28 seconds; 29.33 ± 1.76 %) to T2 (13.51 ± 1.30 seconds; 25.33 ± 2.42 %; P < 0.05). ADS was the greatest individual predictor for the improvement in the TUG time (B = -2.916, P = 0.714).
Conclusions: A mixed-genre dance programme can improve some, but not all, modifiable risk factors that increase older adults’ risk of falling. Future work must include a control group and larger sample sizes to confirm the results.