Will dancing help with my Parkinson's?

If you have Parkinson’s, dance has been shown to have many benefits. Basic dance techniques can improve your posture, core strength and coordination.

We’ve heard from many people with Parkinson’s who have found dancing therapeutic. Others have told us about how it has given them confidence to move more freely, and a sense of freedom from some of the physical and mental aspects of the condition.

The more physically active you are, the easier it is to live well with Parkinson’s. This includes forms of dance, such as ballet, tap dance and seated dance.

Music is also increasingly used by therapists and exercise professionals to improve walking, balance and other activities related to gait. Studies even show that music has an effect on cognition (mental activity) and movement.

Lucille visits Northern Ballet in Leeds with her husband Melvyn, who has Parkinson’s.

“Melvyn was diagnosed in 12 years ago, and has lots of different symptoms including unsteadiness of movement, anxiety and speech problems

We went, and were very glad we did.

“We joined the Northern Ballet Dance for Parkinson’s class 5 years ago after a friend recommended it. At the time, Melvyn was quite housebound and was difficult for him to get out. But, we went, and were very glad we did.  

“We enjoyed the first class, although we didn’t stay for too long afterwards for a chat, as Melvyn’s anxiety was quite bad. But now we like to socialise after the class as often as we can.”

Confidence to move more freely and eases stiffness

“Each session is specific for people affected by Parkinson’s, and is very cleverly thought out by the teachers. A lot of the dances start off seated, and we will all use our facial muscles and arms to really loosen up before everyone stands. You can see the difference it makes, as it gives people the confidence to move more freely and eases stiffness.

"We’ll always do it to music, like the Nutcracker, which gives you a feel good factor too. And it gives both of us the chance to do something we can do together, and genuinely enjoy.

“If you’re not sure, you should definitely give it a go.” 

Moving to the music

The way we react to music can help us when we are being physically active. Physiotherapist Bhanu Ramaswamy looks at different ways of using music to enhance your experience.

How can I get dancing?

You may wish to join a dance class or you may prefer to improvise in your own home. Dance can be very gentle or quite vigorous, and it’s important to find the right style for you.

Try some seated dance from home

Fancy trying some seated dance right now? Watch this Dance for Parkinson's class in Brighton, and follow along.