Tango anyone? How about a Jitterbug, Cabbage Patch, or a little Roger Rabbit? No, really–dancing is a great way to keep yourself young. Just ask anyone who cuts it up regularly, and they’ll tell you how much dancing helps them keep their youth.

But we now know that dancing–especially the tango–can also help people with Parkinson’s Disease stay mobile and maintain balance. So say new findings out of Washington University of St. Louis medical school. According to the study, although dance in general is good therapy for Parkinson’s patients, tango specifically helps with balance and mobility due to the nature of the dance, specifically its dynamic balance, turning, initiation of movement, moving at different speeds, and walking backwards.

The study looked at two groups of Parkinson’s patients: one that was led through exercise classes, and the other was given tango lessons. The exercise group was given strength and conditioning exercises routine for Parkinson’s patients and the elderly, while the tango group was taken through exercises which included stretching, balance exercises, tango-style walking, footwork patterns, experimenting of timing of steps, and dance with and without a partner. The exercise classes included 40 minutes of seated exercise, followed by standing exercises supported by a chair, core strengthening and stretching. Although both groups showed improvement, the tango group showed greater improvement with balance.

Great news and wonderful confirmation for the power of balance work. In the chiropractic profession, we know how crucial balance is to the overall health and well-being of the body. Our sense of balance is integral in many functions including our biomechanics or whether we’ll suffer chronic pain or not. Also, having proper balance, especially for the elderly, is essential for preventing falls, which can lead to hip fractures and even death if vital arteries are severed during the break. Many systems contribute to the balance function including the cerebellum and proprioceptive receptors, but it all starts in the feet–and good footwork can only help us keep our balance intact–thus the power of tango.

So everybody, get up to get down…and tango.

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