comscore Dancing helps elderly ease through later decades | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Dancing helps elderly ease through later decades


    Cloris Leachman poses for a photograph in Los Angeles in 2016.

At age 82, actress Cloris Leachman is the oldest contestant to compete on “Dancing With the Stars.” She remained through more than half of season seven, a fan favorite for her spunk and humor.

Well, a new study out of Australia explains why octogenarian Leachman was so able to trip the light fantastic: Researchers found that ballet-dancing seniors (and we’re betting the effort put into learning the “Dancing” routines of the tango, pasodoble and waltz, has the same effect) end up with better posture and more flexibility, energy and happiness.

That’s just a two-step from last year’s study in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, which found that dancing boosts anti-­aging effects on the brain because of the multiple sensory inputs and challenges that choreography demands.

So, if you’re looking for something to complement your daily 10,000 steps and get you into the social swing of things, consider taking dance lessons, signing up for barre classes or learning tai chi (it’s the equivalent of slow dancing!) or hatha yoga (another variable routine that demands learning choreography).

Interaction with others, practicing balance, listening to music (in some routines) and paying attention to posture will invigorate your body, mind and spirit.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email questions to

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