True Story: Dancing Improved My Health After Two Hip Replacements

This is how dance lessons helped me improve my range of motion and stay active after two hip replacements.

I had two hip replacements in my 50s, and I knew as I was getting older that old people fall down and break bones. I got into tai chi; I was doing restorative yoga at my community centre. Then, five or six years ago, the National Ballet School and Baycrest Health Services wanted to expand their seniors’ dance program to Peterborough, Ont., which has one of the highest proportions of seniors in the country. I was excited and delighted—imagine learning dance from teachers at the National Ballet School, for Pete’s sake.

(Related: 4 Stretches to Improve Range of Motion as You Age)

The classes are all about telling a story through music and movement—they know we love to canoe out here, so they might do a dance that has paddling or something themed to the start of spring. It’s such a joy. Doing the dance and the arm movements, I’ve found an awareness of my body that wasn’t there before. My range of motion is huge; now, I can put my hands behind my back and grab my wrists, easy peasy. I slipped on the ice this winter, and all the medical people in my family said if I hadn’t been doing dance, I’d never have been able to get back up.

(Related: How Learning an Instrument as an Adult Helped Me With Brain Fog and Anxiety)

When the pandemic hit, they eventually moved the classes online, and there’s even an app now. I’ve had my ups and downs—I’m a hugger, and I can’t hug anyone—but the classes give me a purpose. And we’ve become a close-knit unit over the Internet. All the research shows that if you’re active with your body, if you’re not an isolated senior lonely in your home, then you can have a long, healthy life. I’m in my late 60s, but I have a plan to get to 105.

Next: 5 Stretching Exercises for Seniors—or Anyone Who Feels Achy

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Originally Published in Best Health Canada