“Shall We Dance?” The Impact of Dance Classes on Depression in Older Adults

Dance classes are not only fun, but they may also benefit your well-being. A dance class may improve your physical fitness, cognitive functioning, and mood, and a recent study shows it may also make you less depressed. Specifically, new research published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology examined associations between dance classes and depressive symptoms in adults over age 60.  

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 23 research studies conducted between 2006 and 2022 to examine the impact of dance interventions on depressive symptoms in older adults. Their efforts resulted in a sample size of 1,398 healthy older adults with a mean age of 72 years. Studies included multiple types of dance, such as Chinese square dancing, ballroom dance, and tango, and the programs ranged from 4 to 48 weeks. Results showed that adults who participated in a multi-week dance program had significantly fewer depressive symptoms at the end of the study than those who did not participate (i.e., who were part of the control group).  

More research is needed on the program duration needed to see benefits, which types of dance are most effective, and whether dancing alone vs. in a group influences outcomes. The programs included a diverse range of dance classes, demonstrating that a wide variety of dance styles may be beneficial for mental health. To mitigate your risk of future mental health symptoms, join a dance class! Or just turn up the music and dance.  


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Rittiwong, T., Reangsing, C., & Schneider, J. K. (2023). The Effects of Dance Interventions on Depression in Older Adults: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 07334648231172357. https://doi.org/10.1177/07334648231172357 

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