I Hope You Dance

Two Dancing 'Til Dusk participants enjoy the Portage Bay Big Band at Seattle's Freeway Park. Photo courtesy of Riisa Conklin, Freeway Park Neighborhood Association

"I Hope You Dance" is a country song that expresses this wish: "When you get the choice to sit it out or dance … I hope you dance!"

I hope you dance!

Some people love to dance. Others shy away from it. A report out of New Zealand—"Physical Benefits of Dancing for Healthy Older Adults: A Review"—and related studies tell us that dance carries tremendous health benefits—more flexibility, stronger bones and muscles, greater endurance and stamina, better posture and balance (fewer falls!), less tension and stress—and provides social connections. We believe this is true for people of all ages.

But more than all that—it's just plain fun!

If you are one of the shy ones, or afraid you've got two left feet, you can still dance at home or at least sway with the music. From "The power of music in the lives of older adults," by Andrea Creech, et al., and numerous other studies, we know that music plays an important role in the well-being of older adults. But the more we can get moving and stay connected, the greater the reward.

In Seattle-King County, we have lots of opportunities for dance and music. Several are described in detail in this newsletter, including Dance for PD® , Dancing 'Til Dusk, and Fire on the Bricks.

World Dance Party is a multi-generational community organization that emerged at an Aging Your Way gathering in 2010.

In addition, there's World Dance Party, a community-driven activity that emerged from an Aging Your Way gathering sponsored by Senior Services in June 2010. We brought you a story about World Dance Party ("Changing the World—One Dance Party at a Time") last year. World Dance Party offers West African dance, hula, line dance, Harlem Shake, Laotian dance, salsa, Jarabe Tapatio (Mexican hat dance), La Raspa folk dance lessons, and more.

Don't forget the wonderful opportunities afforded by your local senior center or community center. For instance, Seattle's Lifelong Recreation program offers dance classes and special events "for people 50 and better." A quick scan of their Summer 2013 catalog shows line dance, ballroom dance, Zumba Gold, and aerobic dance opportunities at community centers throughout Seattle.

Looking for more? Whether you want BootScootin' Boogie or dance of the African diaspora, try Kent Senior Activity Center, Renton Senior Activity Center, or another senior center near you.

At your local community center, look for ballroom, country, hula, Jazzercise, line dance, Mideastern dance, rock 'n roll, square dance, swing, two step, West African, and Zumba. Tukwila Community Center offers many options. Did you know that North Bellevue Community Center has offered Mandarin dance and Issaquah Senior Center offers tango?

Club Bamboo, a food and fitness program for Asian and Pacific Islander seniors operated by the Asian Counseling and Referral Service, offers modern dance and line dance classes several days each week.

For other community centers, click here.

I've given you just a sample of the many options you have to get out and join the dance!

"The research is clear and compelling. Regular physical activity positively affects overall health for older adults and increases life expectancy...Physical activity and healthy eating can have a profound impact on the lives on older adults."—Area Plan on Aging for Seattle-King County Washington, 2012–2015

Now … a 5-6-7-8!

—Tony Provine, Chair
Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging and Disability Services