How Music Keeps Your Balance
A new study may turn out to be more than music to the ears of those seniors who are unsteady on their feet. According to research published in the latest issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, elderly folks cut their risk of falling by more than half after they took classes in eurhythmics an exercise and music program originally designed for children.
The program was developed by an early 20th century composer, Emile Jacques-Dalcroze. He taught movement in time to all kinds of music from Mozart to jazz. Eurhythmics requires participants to walk and turn around, stay in step with tempos, learn to shift their weight and balance, handle objects while walking, as well as make certain upper-body movements while walking.
The trial of 134 participants, with an average age of seventy-five years, took place for twelve months. All participants were originally unsteady on their feet. Half were randomly assigned to weekly hour-long eurhythmics classes for the first six months. The other group took no classes until the following six months. In the first group there were just 24 falls over the first six months, compared with 54 among those who were not in the classes.
Even more impressive was the fact that after the classes ended, the participants continued to be able to stay balanced, walked with a more regular gait and were better able to walk while doing other things.
Robin Westen is ThirdAges medical reporter. Check for her daily updates. She is the author of Ten Days to Detox: How to Look and Feel a Decade Younger.
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