Introduction: Deficits of balance or postural control in persons of advanced age are one of the factors that influence the risk of falling. The most appropriate treatment approaches and their benefits are still unknown.
Objective: The aim of this article is to systematically review the scientific literature to identify the therapeutic effects of dancing as a physical exercise modality on balance, flexibility, gait, muscle strength and physical performance in older adults.
Methods: A systematic search of Pubmed, Cochrane Library Plus, PEDro, Science Direct, Dialnet and Academic Search Complete using the search terms "dance", "older", "dance therapy", "elderly", "balance", "gait" and "motor skills". The eligibility criteria were: studies written in English and Spanish, published from January 2000 to January 2013, studies which analyzed the effects of dance (ballroom dance and/or dance based exercise) in older adults over 60 years of age with no disabling disease and included the following variables of study: balance, gait, risk of falls, strength, functionality, flexibility and quality of life.
Results: 123 articles were found in the literature. A final selection of seven articles was used for the present manuscript. Although the selected studies showed positive effects on the risk of falling related to factors (balance, gait and dynamic mobility, strength and physical performance), there were some aspects of the studies such as the methodological quality, the small sample size, the lack of homogeneity in relation to the variables and the measurement tools, and the existing diversity regarding the study design and the type of dance, that do not enable us to confirm that dance has significant benefits on these factors based on the scientific evidence.
Keywords: Balance; Dance therapy; Elderly; Gait; Older adults.
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