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SHALL WE DANCE? Muhammad Yusuf was a good dancer as a young man. Now the 76-year-old Somali takes part in a weekly dance class for older men to keep fit.

Benefits abound

An online survey of 475 non-professional dancers has found dancing can help:

  • provide opportunities to meet people
  • foster appreciation for other people and cultures
  • provide an outlet for emotions
  • build confidence
  • improve body posture
  • increase flexibility and balance
  • release tension and stress and,
  • reduce pain.

Choosing a groove

The survey participants took part in a broad range of dance forms:

  • ballroom
  • folk dance
  • disco
  • belly dance
  • rock ‘n’ roll
  • jazz
  • ballet
  • tango
  • meditative dance
  • tap
  • salsa and,
  • dance theatre.

Folk dancing was the most popular, followed by ballroom dance and disco.

The study appeared online in Arts & Health on Aug. 16, 2010.



MINDFUL HEALTH: Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer explains why people should take charge of their health in Counter Clockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility (Ballantine Books).

Among the points the author makes are:

Age-related changes in our health do not inevitably signal decline.

Medical terms such as "cure" versus "remission" and "chronic" versus "acute" mask a complicated world. Labels can help us organize our thoughts. Problems begin when we mindlessly accept labels as fixed truths.

People need to take charge of their health and realize that no one can know their own bodies like themselves.

According to Langer, physicians might be better used as consultants.



GRANDPARENTS PROGRAM TRANSFORMS LIVES: For over 40 years, Volunteer Grandparents of B.C. has matched up healthy active adults with families with young children.

Through the program, older adults and children share the joy of friendship, the thrill of learning and the vibrancy of many of cultures.

Kehar Singh Aujla is a volunteer grandparent for a family with three young children in Burnaby, B.C. "I have my grandchildren here, in England and India," said Aujla, who emigrated from India with his wife in 1996. "But at the same time I am their (this family’s) grandparent, as their grandparents are not here."



THREE STRATEGIES TO COMBAT PROBLEM GAMBLING: Australian researchers have found vulnerable individuals turn to gambling in later life to escape feelings of isolation, caused by unresolved losses, sense of redundancy and loneliness.

Researchers say community-level recreational and social opportunities are needed to help individuals combat isolation and deal with emotional stress. They suggest the following:

1. Learning opportunities: Offer courses to retirees so older adults can develop new interests and hobbies to fill up their free time and learn about alternative ways of meeting emotional and social needs.

2. Mentoring programs: Create programs where older adults can use their experience and skills to mentor teenagers and young adults. This builds bonds between generations and allow retirees to feel valued by society.

3. Develop senior-friendly neighbourhoods: Foster communities where older adults have opportunities to engage in conversation and participate in recreational activities. The participants said activities offered by today’s seniors’ clubs were dull and uninteresting.

Details of the study appeared online in The Gerontologist on Oct. 4, 2013.