Skip navigation

USM Center on Aging Promotes New Health Initiative Tied to Social Dancing

Wed, 03/11/2020 - 11:46am | By: Van Arnold

The University of Southern Mississippi’s Center on Aging hopes to inspire residents to kick up their heels and become more physically active with a new “Dance for the Health of It” initiative.

The initiative, which began in February, is designed to promote the many health benefits of social dancing – aka “partner” or “ballroom” dancing. Center Director Dr. Mike Forster, professor in USM’s School of Social Work, notes that scientific findings document the myriad physical and mental health benefits of social dancing. He stresses that while anyone can enjoy these benefits, older individuals in particular may have the most to gain from both dancing’s preventive and remedial effects.

“The community-wide promotion effort has two closely related goals – first, to grow the number of people enjoying the physical, cognitive, psychological, and emotional benefits of regular social dancing; and second, to improve the overall health and well-being of the entire community,” said Forster.

Forster points out that the greater Hattiesburg area offers appealing opportunities to learn and practice social dancing.

“The community features three privately owned studios, two active non-profit groups that organize low-cost classes and dances, several certified professional instructors, and hundreds of enthusiastic amateur dancers happy to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with novice dancers,” he said.

Forster learned first-hand the tangible and intangible benefits from social dancing while participating in the USM Foundation’s “Dancing with the Deans” event in 2012. Since that time, he has remained an active member of the area’s ballroom dance circuit.

Some significant benefits of social dancing include:

  • Improved condition of the heart and lungs
  • Increased muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness
  • Increased aerobic fitness
  • Better weight management
  • Stronger bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis
  • Better coordinator, agility and flexibility
  • Great self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Enhanced social skills
  • Greater overall life satisfaction

To learn more about the “Dance for the Health of It” initiative and USM’s Center on Aging, contact Forster at Michael.forsterFREEMississippi