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December 10, 2018
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Let’s Dance!

By Hindel Moskovits

One of my grandmother’s favorite activities was dancing. She would reminisce about Chicago in the 1940s; how all the boys had gone to the war and there was no one to dance with. She would pretend to be interested in taking dance classes so that she could dance with the instructors. She talked about dancing at Arthur Murray studios and jazz dancing at Gus Giordano’s.

I’d watch her face light up whenever she was asked to dance at family events, and weddings. This made me realize that dancing served as a great way to connect with her. Together, throughout the years we created beautiful memories of four generations of our family dancing together.

While there were many other special memories of things we all did together, like baking (she was famous for her Mandelbrot ) there was something unique about the dancing. There are aspects of our dancing that stand out in my mind; the physical activity, the time spent together, and of course, her opportunity to shine.

Dance, yoga, swimming and other physical activities are unique ways to connect with our parents and grandparents. As early as infancy, we were comforted by the swaying of our parents, to musical styling of a clapping hand, or a shaking rattle.  That introduction leads to a lifetime of comfort and joy found in dancing. For some this is found by showing off dance moves and mastering the electric slide, for others, who aren’t quite a Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers, they too can participate by moving to their feet to the beat, clapping along and enjoying watching others dance.

Physical activity

The benefits of physical activity for older adults are vast. Physical activity is known to boost the mood, relieving stress and improving brain function. It improves muscle tone and flexibility, balance and coordination.

Exercise helps prevent common ailments that are of increased risk to seniors as they age and enhances overall quality of life. Exercise improves immune function and aids preventable disease management. Physical activity helps maintain the ability for seniors to maintain their independence. My dear dancing grandmother was blessed to live at home until age 97.

Family Relationships

Spending time with family is an important factor of one’s wellbeing, and especially that of a senior. Social time with family prevents depression and gives one a sense of purpose. Everyone benefits from shared time with family, even if it’s arguing whether Uncle Abe won scrabble by cheating, or whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher.

Time together gives you opportunities to hear funny stories and learn about your family history. Moments that grandchildren and grandparents interact together are priceless. Children will learn to respect elders, be of service to others, and the importance of family.

While your family may have two left feet, or roots on Broadway and Cirque Du Soleil, exercise can be moderate, conducted one’s own pace, and can be initiated at any time to have its benefits.

Here are simple, effective exercises the whole family can practice together. All you’ll need is a chair for support.

Turn this activity into a fun family contest. Have everyone choose their goal. Anyone who reaches their goal gets a point. The one who has the most points wins, the one with the least points is the one who unloads the dishwasher.

Balance on One Foot

• Using a chair for stability, stand behind it and hold on to the back.

• Pick up your left foot and balance on your right foot – aim for 30 seconds 
• Switch feet and hold for 30 seconds
• Repeat 3 times

Modifications can be made with the amount of repetitions or length of the hold.
For those who are sedentary: sit on the chair and lift one leg up, attempt to hold for 10-30 seconds.


Tip Toe Raises

• Stand behind a chair and hold on the back
• Raise yourself on your tip toes up to your highest point
• Hold for 15 seconds and lower both feet back to the floor
• Repeat 10 times

Modifications can be made with the amount of repetitions or length of the hold.
For those who are sedentary: Place feet on the floor and raise up on to tip toes. Attempt to hold for 10-30 seconds.




Leg Lifts

Version 1:
•Hold on to the back of a chair for support.
•Stand straight on one foot and with resistance swing the opposite leg behind you
•Stay upright during this exercise. No leaning and keep the hips square.
•Keep a slight bend on the supporting leg

Version 2:
•Swing the leg up to the side keeping it in line with the hips
•Hold the leg up for 10 seconds then bring the leg down
•Repeat 10 times on the left and then 10 times on the right
•Attempt to do three sets of ten repetitions of each exercise

•Switch the sides between the left and right foot consecutively
•Decrease or increase the amount of repetitions or the amount of time you hold.
For those who are sedentary: While seated place feet on the floor and push knee out to the side as far as comfortable. Attempt to hold for 10-30 seconds.

Freeze Tag

A fun family activity to play is freeze tag. Freeze tag is a good family activity because everyone can move or dance at a pace that is comfortable.

How to play:
•Turn on some music
•Everyone dances around at their own pace
•Have someone in charge of stopping the music
•When the music stops you freeze in your position
•Anyone who moves loses the round.
Those who are sedentary should not miss out on the fun. While seated wave the hands, tap the feet, or shake the hips from side to side.

These activities will create beautiful memories for your family. Take photos of the attempts, the joy and the huge smiles during this time together. They will remind you of fun times you spent with family, all while being physical, improving your health, and creating closeness to family.

Once you’ve tried this let us know about your experience. Did you create silly tasks for the “loser”?

Some of our favorite variations:
-Singing a song out loud to everyone
-Calling the winner “your highness” for the rest of the day
-Drawing a picture for the winner
-Making the winner’s bed the next morning
-Saying something nice about each person in the game

What were the highlights? Which parts where you most grateful for? What would you change next time? There is no end to benefits each part of this activity creates. We hope your family enjoys being physical and playing together.