Over-65s in Swansea Bay are being encouraged to take dance lessons in a bid to keep them on their feet.
Five of the health board’s clusters – groups of medical practices working together in one geographic area – support the program because exercising to music has been proven to help prevent falls.
Each class is led by a trained dance teacher and participants are encouraged to follow a range of routines designed to develop strength and balance, with the option of using a chair for support if their mobility is limited.
The Dance for Health program is a collaboration between the health board, clusters, local authorities and Aesop, an arts-focused charity.
Alyson Pugh, Program Manager at Aesop, said: “We are excited to work with our healthcare partners to improve the health and well-being of people over 65 through dance.
“During each class, participants will transition to a variety of music from around the world. Classes are fun and dynamic, increasing fitness, mobility and strength.
“Afterwards, participants will have the opportunity to get to know each other over a cup of tea or coffee. No previous experience is necessary, everyone is welcome.”
So far classes have taken place at Pontardawe, Morriston, Seven Sisters, Cwmavon and Briton Ferry, Upper Killay, Reynoldston, Mumbles and the Waterfront Museum.
Alison said: “The health board has requested 12 courses in Swansea Bay and has funded the management side while GP groups are funding course delivery. They wanted it to be basic.
“Anyone can come in, but they wanted the main referrals to come from virtual services and local coordinators and social prescribers, a whole community approach.”
Dance artist Lizzie MacMillan (left), a development worker with Dance for Health, said: ‘It’s for older people and people who maybe struggle a bit with balance issues, mobility issues as well, so we don’t we don’t expect them to foxtrot on the floor in first class or anything like that. It builds over weeks.
“We start out pretty slow, just seeing where everyone is in the class – I like to assess the class first to see if people have balance issues or maybe dizziness or joint issues. I like to get to know each person in the class so that I can take care of them and know their movement ability.
“We use the chairs a lot if someone is unsteady on their feet. They can always do a variation using the chair for support. We also do a standing variation if people are a little more fit or a little more able to push themselves further in the class.
Mike Garner, Cwmtawe Cluster Manager, said: “We are delighted to be part of this program as it fits perfectly with our goal of improving well-being and helping people stay fit and healthy.”
One participant, Pauline Anderson, said: “I took four or five courses. I thought I would try it to see what it looks like and it turned out really good.
“As you get older, you become more still. I had issues with my knees and joints so I found this helpful.
“I would advise anyone thinking about it to just come.”
Another participant, Betty Didcock, said: “I try to stay active as much as possible. I loved dancing when I was younger. I’ve made friends here. If you’re a little shy, it’s a wonderful place to get used to talking to people. people. I’m a calm person. I don’t always do it right, but I have a hard time.
While Amber Davies said: “I thought I would come and see how it was. It is important to keep busy and stay active. It’s also a good way to meet new people.
(Main image: Swansea Bay NHS)