Sasha-Beth Wong (BSc hons Applied Sport Science) from the University of Edinburgh conducted independent research in 2013. Her findings support the use of Sitdance as an effective form of physical activity.
improves fitness and moods
Her research found that it is of sufficient exercise intensity to induce improvements in physical fitness and mood in healthy older adults.
Sitdance was found to be of significantly higher intensity than sedentary activity and of non-significantly lower intensity than standing forms of exercise.
as effective as standing exercise
These findings mean that one should encourage healthy older adults to participate in regular physical activity and to not be discouraged if they are unable or afraid of standing.
A lack of participation in physical activity can cause many problems. Physical activities such as Sitdance, should be encouraged, as they may prevent many such problems from arising.
they may dislike exercise but love to dance
Sitdance is a valid substitute for traditional forms of exercise, especially for those that do not enjoy ‘exercise’, or lack the confidence and/or ability for such movements or have a fear of falling.
It is wonderful to have this independent research confirm that Sitdance is a beneficial activity. Many thanks to Sasha-Beth Wong (BSc hons Applied Sport Science) from the University of Edinburgh for allowing Sitdance to use her research findings.
The full research findings can be found here.
That music benefits our elders with dementia is well documented. ‘Dance to Remember’ offers additional benefits by getting participants to dance and socialise at the same time.
Sitdance selects popular songs, makes meaningful choreographies that express the lyrics, and films video tutorials on relevant locations. This holistic and integrated approach provides auditory, visual, and physical stimulation that moves body and soul.
Meaningful movements engage cellular reducing the reliance on brain memory. This enables elders with dementia to engage. The especially composed music functions as a non-verbal memory support.
‘Dance to Remember’ is a course consisting of multiple sessions that build skills and confidence with time. The thorough pedagogical approach enables participant to learn. people with dementia do still learn!
Set up of Space:
If possible arrange participants in a semi circle facing the screen. This way they can see each other. Dance is a social event. The ability to make eye contact and see others having a good time is
Should residents struggle following a person on a screen, arrange a session in such a way that a staff member (model) faces and copies the on-screen action, and residents face the instructor (but not the screen). Use live sound+instructions from screen, instructor should remain silent and just model.
Spread staff evenly among the residents. Good role models will encourage participants.
Do not allow non-participants to just watch from the sideline. It is not a show. It can trigger self-consciousness in participants and cause them to stop.
Support for participants:
Always aim for 100% engagement from a participant. For some that may be just being present, for others just singing. Sometimes holding a hand of a non-participating resident can encourage them to join in. Start gently by taping a rhythm on their hand, and see if they respond, if so, see if you cam do more.
Those that are weak or inclined not to participate, place a support person next to them. Start with just holding a hand and gently move it up and down or in a gentle swinging motion to the rhythm of the music. Often that is all they need to get going. With time they may initiate participation by themselves.
Refrain from repeating the voice-over instruction. Most likely you will be just a fraction too late anyway and it will distract the participant from listening to the music.
Participants with reduced brain functioning can still learn kinesthetically, more words often do not help. Show rather than tell. You can show by starting simply with holding hands and move to the rhythm of the music before getting into any part of the choreography.
When supporting a participant physically, always start subtly to get a sense what a body is capable of. It is better to do little than nothing at all, or too much. If it causes pain of fatigue they may choose to opt out next time.
If a participant does not want to move at all, you can still make a physical connection by just resting your hand on theirs. Their dominant hand will be most used, and thus open to touch. You can then progress to gently tapping the rhythm on their hand. That way they are connected to the session.
Dance brings joy, so remember to ‘have a ball’ no matter what you do.