Physical activity (PA) has beneficial effects on physical and mental health outcomes in older adults. However, a consistent decline in PA participation has been noted with increasing age, with older adults consistently being reported as the least physically active population. Previous evidence showed that dance is an appropriate form of PA in older adults as it integrates the body’s movement with physical, cognitive, and social elements. This study investigated the feasibility and efficacy of a weekly dance programme over a 12-month period on PA levels and wellbeing.
A mixed-method intervention design was used. Community-dwelling older adults aged 55 + years were recruited from local community groups in Yorkshire (UK). The programme comprised of a 60-min mixed genre dance class per week. Changes with carried forward data in self-reported measures of PA (min/week) and wellbeing with EuroQol visual analogue scale (EQ VAS) across four different time points (baseline, 3, 6 and 12 months) were assessed using the Friedman test. Feasibility was also assessed through class attendance and focus groups ( N = 6–9) with participants. A thematic analysis of qualitative data was conducted.
A total of 685 participants (589–89.1% females and 72–10.9% males) took part in the study. The mean age was 75 ± 10 years, and 38% of the participants were classed as highly deprived as per the index of multiple deprivation. There was a statistically significant increase in both PA (X2(3) = 192.42, P < 0.001) and EQ VAS scores across the four time points ( X 2 (3) = 19.66, P < 0.001). The mean adherence rate was consistent across the 12-month period of intervention (70%). Themes from the focus groups included reasons for participating in the programme, perceptions of how the dance programme affected the participants, and facilitators to participation in the programme.
The good adherence and favourability indicate that the dance programme is feasible as an intervention in community-dwelling participants from socially economically diverse communities. The dance intervention showed a positive effect on PA levels and wellbeing. A randomised-controlled trial with a control group is required to test this intervention further.