Dancing the tango or an Irish jig may improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. New research shows that after dancing twice a week, patients were able to take up physical activities that they had been unable to perform since developing the disease, Daily Mail has reported.
Trials are now under way at a number of centers, including the University of Southampton, where the effects of dance on the disease are being investigated.
Dopamine plays a key role in regulating the movement of the body and a drop in levels causes involuntary shaking, muscle stiffness and a slowing down of physical movements.
There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s but several treatments are available to help control symptoms. Turning and walking backwards are among the tasks that sufferers have the most difficulty with.
In new research at Washington University School of Medicine, Parkinson’s patients took part in twice-weekly one-hour sessions of tango dancing.
Results show that by the end of the year-long study, there were significant improvements in their balance and mobility compared with patients who did conventional exercises. Another study at the University of California tracked eye movement during dancing exercises, according to Daily Mail.
People with Parkinson’s can have difficulty co-coordinating their eye movements, and researchers believe that the music and movements involved in dancing may help the brain to get around the balance and movement problems.