Care homes and Ore Oduba rock around the Christmas tree to celebrate the power of dance in later life

In the run-up to the festive season, new research reveals the nation’s love of dance and highlights the physical, mental and social benefits of dancing for people of all ages. 

In response, Anchor, England’s largest not-for-profit provider of care and housing for people in later life, has launched Move Into Christmas  a campaign celebrating the power of dance, to boost wellbeing in a fun and accessible way.

Backed by BBC Strictly Come Dancing champion, radio and television presenter Ore Oduba, the festive campaign encourages the nation to get active through an inclusive dance routine, and aims to bring people together following a period of social restrictions last Christmas.

More than just movement

Anchor’s research found that dancing provides a great opportunity for people to start and maintain good fitness habits, with 65 per cent of older people seeing dancing as a fun and engaging way to keep fit. This sentiment is supported by the wider public as 79 per cent say it’s important for older people to stay fit and active in later life. The NHS also recommends dancing as a great way to lose weight, maintain strong bones, improve posture and muscle strength, and increase balance and coordination.[1]

The benefits of dance extend far beyond fitness, as 73 per cent of older people recognise that dancing can benefit their mental health. It also brings joy – 43 per cent of older people say dancing makes them happy and half (50 per cent) of the public say they find joy through dancing. 

Former BBC Strictly Come Dancing champion, radio and television presenter Ore Oduba is backing the campaign and has been enjoying dancing with Anchor’s residents. He said:

“In the last few years, I’ve been so lucky to make dance such a big part of my life. Ever since winning Strictly Come Dancing, I cherish every chance I get to bring the joy of dance to other people. I’m excited to take part in Anchor’s Move Into Christmas campaign and celebrate the power of dance for all ages.

“The thing about dance is that it just makes you feel good, and it can really benefit your physical, mental and social wellbeing. I’ve had great fun dancing with Anchor’s residents and I’m so inspired to see how much they’re enjoying it. Move Into Christmas is a great way to bring people together this holiday season. I can’t wait to see everyone’s dances on social media using #MoveIntoChristmas!”

Move Into Christmas 

Following a challenging 18 months, the activity that the nation is most looking forward to this Christmas is spending more quality time with loved ones. But with 36 per cent of the public worried they’ll be lonely this Christmas, initiatives that encourage bonding are crucial.

Move Into Christmas provides an accessible and inclusive way for the nation to come together and celebrate the holidays through a shared love of dance, while boosting physical, social and mental wellbeing. The campaign was inspired by Anchor’s residents and colleagues, and their love of dancing. 

An accessible, festive dance routine has been developed by Anchor’s Zest Dance team and anyone can do it at home – either standing up or sitting down. The dance is inspired by the Christmas classic ‘Rocking Around the Christmas Tree’ and aims to bring some much-needed festive joy to the nation.

Everyone can perform and showcase their own festive routine using #MoveIntoChristmas on social media. 

A dance for all ages 

Dancing has a unique way of uniting people, regardless of age. The research found that 64 per cent of the public believe dancing has the power to bring people together, and 61 per cent recognise that it can help different generations bond. 

The power of dance has been realised particularly during the pandemic, with a third (34 per cent) of the public saying dancing helped them feel connected with others. 

Launching at Christmas, when different generations typically spend more time together, the campaign aims to strengthen important intergenerational bonds through dance.

Dancing memories 

Dance can also have a powerful impact on memory, with the research showing that 58 per cent of older people say it can help to spark fond memories. 

This is particularly important for people living with dementia. With its focus on specialist dementia care, Anchor is committed to meaningfully engaging with residents. The Move Into Christmas campaign forms part of Anchor’s focus on reminiscence therapy, which provides people with opportunities to reminisce and bring back memories. Through enjoying a lifelong pastime such as dancing, older people may be able to recall events, sounds and feelings from the past, which can have a transformative effect on their wellbeing. 

Jane Ashcroft CBE, Chief Executive of Anchor, said:

“Across our services, we see the transformative power that fitness activities like dancing have on our residents’ wellbeing and sense of fulfilment. It’s through their love of dance that Move Into Christmas was created.

“Regardless of previous dancing experience, or any mobility challenges for some in later life, many of our residents across the country are embracing the opportunity to dance. Throughout the festive period and colder months, dancing provides a fun and accessible way to keep up good fitness habits. We’d love everyone to join us and show us their own festive dance routine, using #MoveIntoChristmas.”

Mary ‘Pat’ Rose (97), resident at Anchor’s Dawson Lodge care home in Southampton, says: 

“I loved dancing when I was young. I started at school, doing all of the folk dances before moving on to Scottish dancing. My favourite dance routine was the Gay Gordons but I used to get so giddy, that I would shoot across the floor at the end! 

“I liked to do all the dances but was told I was too stiff, so it is nice to get involved and let myself go during the exercise activities that take place in my care home.

“Move Into Christmas will be great fun and a chance to think back to other happy dancing times. I’m excited to be a part of the dance and am really looking forward to seeing other people’s routines!”

You can find out more about Move Into Christmas and how to get involved at: anchor.org.uk/moveintochristmas

 

 

 

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