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Can You Dance Away Pain?

If arthritis is cramping your style, dancing might help you feel better. A new study from St. Louis University found that a group of seniors was able to walk faster and reported less pain after completing several months of dance therapy. The 34 participants in the small study were mostly women whose average age was 80. They all reported pain or stiffness in their knees and hips that was primarily due to osteoarthritis. The researchers divided the participants into two groups. The 19 volunteers in one group danced for 45 minutes once or twice a week; the other 15 volunteers did not receive dance therapy but participated in other, similar physical activities. After the 12-week study ended, the participants who performed the dance therapy were able to walk faster. There was enough of a change, in fact, to enable them to cross a street quickly and get to the bathroom faster than they might have before the dance therapy. Another bonus: those who had dance therapy were able to reduce the prescriptions they were taking by 39 percent, while those who didn’t dance actually increased their medication use by 21 percent.

Jean Krampe et al, “Does dance-based therapy increase gait speed in older adults with chronic lower extremity pain: A feasibility study.” Geriatric Nursing, 2014; DOI:10.1016/j.gerinurse.2014.03.008