Dancing is good for the heart, good for the brain as exercise, socializing help reduce dementia risk

For retiree Lou Tiziani, dancing is more than a hobby. It helps him stay young.

He helps organise New Vogue dance events in the Wollongong area twice a week and runs his own website listing all the dances in the area from the Highlands to the South Coast.

The New Vogue sequence dance originated in colonial Australia in the 1930s and was performed in town halls and rural shacks.(ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss)

For more than a decade, he’s participated in sequenced dances—rock, ballroom, and new fashion—and he performs 68 different dances each month.

“Try to memorize all of that…it helps the brain, and it’s definitely going to keep your fitness levels up by doing that,” he says.

During the lockdown, Mr Tiziani and his partner Lyn Child noticed a drop in their fitness levels.

“It took a while to realize, ‘Wait a minute, we’re getting old, we’re not doing anything’, we need to do something, and that’s the main reason we’re doing this dance event; it’s to make us a little bit healthier than our usual level,” he said.

Associate Professor Michael Woodward, honorary medical adviser to Dementia Australia, believes they are doing something.

“We now recognise that one of the biggest fears of older people is getting dementia or Alzheimer’s [disease]so it’s understandable that people are willing to do everything they can to reduce risk,” he said.

dancers in the hall
People meet regularly at Marshall Mount Hall for New Vogue dance sequences. (ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss)


A woman in a colorful top is smiling.she is standing in front of a country hall
Dance lover Cris Terry highly recommends New Vogue.(ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss)

Cris Terry started dancing at the age of five because her great-grandmother made her a dress, and she has barely stopped to catch her breath since.

Ms Terry said: “She made me a swivel skirt so I used to always have my skirt swivel in circles.”

“I did a little rock and dance, but in the last 20 years I’ve started doing new fashion, bush dance and Scottish country, Irish and rock,” she said.

Ms Terry said she loved dancing to help her stay fit and alert.

“I can’t tell you how many dances I know, but your brain is always working, so it’s good for you and it’s good for your socializing,” she said.

“They say it’s the best way to prevent Alzheimer’s, so I love it.”

Cris is dancing with a friend
Ms Terry invited male friends to dance with her, but said she had no shortage of partners when she went alone.(ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss)

Prevention is better than cure

Over the past decade, people have become acutely aware of the large number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and what we can do to prevent it.

“We’ve always known what’s good for our hearts, and there’s a lot of overlap between what’s good for our hearts and what’s good for our brains,” Dr. Woodward said.

rhythm of life

Robyn Rumble has been dancing at the Shoalhaven Heads Bowling Club for 28 years, and after her husband suffered a stroke, the couple decided to exercise every day.

Because of these benefits, doctors encourage them to dance.

“We need to keep moving, exercising; it helps the brain, it helps with balance, it helps with memory to remember the dance,” Ms Rumble said.

“Different styles of tunes, trot, foxtrot; they all move you toward a certain rhythm, which helps.”

Inside the country hall, a woman in black stood next to a man in a blue-collar shirt.
Robyn Rumble and her husband dance at Shoalhaven Heads and Marshall Mount Hall several times a week.(ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss)

Many of the Shoalhaven Heads Tuesday Night Dance Company’s dancers are approaching retirement age, many of them over 80.

“There are currently no young people coming to this dance,” Ms Rumble said.

Dancers stand side by side in the country hall.
Marshall Mount Hall is only used for dancing as the floor is considered to be of high quality.(ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss)

Regardless of age, she says it’s fun to go to prom in the country.

Associate Professor Michael Woodward is wearing a collared shirt and blazer.he looks outside
Michael Woodward has no doubts about the benefits of dancing.(ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

“My husband and I went to a dance in Merimbula a few weeks ago, and a few weeks before that, Vaga, the following weekend we’re going to Caloundra for a 12-hour dance weekend,” Ms. Rumble said.

Dementia Australia advises people to start dancing early in life, rather than waiting until retirement.

“Reducing dementia risk basically starts in your 30s and 40s, so don’t wait until your 70s; get into sequence dancing, line dancing, or anything else as early as possible,” Dr. Woodward said.


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