It seems that the UK is finally waking up to the benefits of dance for both physical and mental health. Many of you watched Darcey Bussell’s uplifting documentary, Dancing to Happiness, on BBC2 this weekend where she met people whose lives have been transformed by dance. The Strictly judge was moved almost to tears at the transformation of a group of troubled girls through their dance therapy class. She also met patients with Parkinson’s and dementia and saw at first hand the positive power of dance in terms of their physical and mental health. There have been a wealth of medical research studies into the benefits of dance for people of all ages. A recent study by the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases, for example, compared the affects of walking and cycling to dance in older people. It found that only dancing directly improved people’s balance – a sign of better connections to the brain. Lead scientist Dr Katherine Rehfeld suggests that the challenge of learning and remembering steps creates an extra boost to the brain.
None of this is really news to those of us who regularly attend Mundo Dance classes. We can testify to the physical, mental and social benefits our classes bring to us and that’s why more and more people are joining.
A new article in Dance Magazine reveals that a new initiative is being launched by UK Government Health Secretary Matt Hancock so that GPs will soon be able to prescribe dance classes for patients suffering from conditions such as dementia, lung problems and mental health issues. Great news. But this is an England-only initiative. Responsibility for health is devolved to Wales so we need the Welsh Government to launch a similar initiative. There is already a Welsh exercise prescription scheme so that GPs can refer patients for exercise programmes for weight loss, recovery from surgery etc. But, there is no mention of dance being included in the scheme at this time.
We want to make a case to the Welsh Government for including dance in the exercise prescription scheme and we need your help. We know from comments made in class and on social media that our dance classes have made a huge difference to you in terms of your physical health and fitness. But we also know that many of you who have suffered bereavement, family problems, stress and a host of other difficulties have found huge support from attending classes – both through the physical and mental activity of learning new routines and the social benefits of making new friends. We would love to hear your story and to include it as a case study in our letter to the Health Minister. If you have an experience to share of how dance has helped you, please contact us on email@example.com. All responses will be treated in the strictest confidence and all case studies will be anonymous.