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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

Ginger – Spices in the Kitchen (Video)

Ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory, containing gingerols - active phytonutrients that not only impart its distinctive flavor, but help lower the inflammatory response. Ginger has been shown in studies to be effective at alleviating pain and improving mobility in people with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

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Why You Shouldn’t Ever Quit Exercising

Here’s another good reason to continue exercising as you get older: it helps keep muscles strong and protects against sarcopenia, an age-related disease resulting in the loss of skeletal muscle mass and muscle strength or function that can lead to disability, poor quality of life and premature death. Researchers at Tokyo University assessed the prevalence of sarcopenia and its effects on physical performance in 1,000 Japanese men and women, age 65 and older enrolled in an ongoing study of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. The investigators measured the participants’ handgrip strength, gait speed, and skeletal muscle mass and collected information on their midlife exercise habits. They found sarcopenia in 13.8 of the men and 12.4 of the women, but the condition was less prevalent in study participants who reported exercising in middle age. In addition, the researchers said that midlife exercise was significantly associated with measures of grip strength, gait speed and one-leg standing after adjusting for age, sex and BMI. The study was presented at the International Osteoporosis Foundation Regionals 4th Asia-Pacific Osteoporosis Meeting, in Hong Kong December 12–15, 2013.

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