Parkinson’s Sufferers May Find Relief on the Dance Floor

Those who love ballroom dancing, whether waltz, salsa, foxtrot or tango, or any of the other dance styles taught by the experts at Arthur Murray, get involved in the activity for the fun of it.

Did you know dancing is great for your body and brain, as well? The benefits of ballroom dancing are numerous.

In fact, the brain-body activity engaged by dancing can even have a beneficial impact for people with Parkinson’s disease. This progressive movement disorder affects 10 million people throughout the world, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation, and about 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease each year. Further, doctors believe there are thousands more people who are afflicted but do not get diagnosed.

Daniel Tarsy, MD, director of the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorder Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said, “There’s no question, anecdotally at least, that music has a very stimulating effect on physical activity. And I think that applies to dance, as well.”

Dance requires complex mental coordination and, when music and movement are synchronized, the brain’s sensory and motor units are activated. This, in turn, according to a 2008 article in Scientific American magazine, “constitutes a pleasure double play.”

Many imaging studies have concluded that the physical activity a person exerts while dancing actually strengthens neuronal connections and helps to improve memory. This is great news for people suffering with Parkinson’s disease.

According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, the disease “belongs to a group of conditions called motor-system disorders, which develop when the dopamine-producing cells in the brain are lost. The chemical dopamine is an essential component of the brain’s system for controlling movement and coordination. As Parkinson’s disease progresses, an increasing number of these cells die off, drastically reducing the amount of dopamine available to the brain.”

Symptoms of Parkinson’s include stiffness of the arms and legs and slowed movement or bradykinesia. Sufferers also have poor coordination and impaired balance. These are also symptoms that dance can help to alleviate.

Talk to your doctor about how dancing may help reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. And, with their permission, try out dancing for yourself. Schedule a FREE first dance lesson at one of Arthur Murray’s nine Boston area locations.