Document Type

Student Research Paper


Spring 2022

Academic Department

Occupational Therapy

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Erica Wentzel


Background: Dancing is an activity that can be performed at any stage throughout a person’s lifespan. As a person grows older, physical activity and exercise become more important as muscle mass decreases and bones become more brittle. These bodily changes may impact an older individual’s ability to participate in physical activities and exercises they once were able to do. Dance is an occupation that offers a fun opportunity to increase a person’s physical, cognitive, social, and emotional health. Methods: A scoping review examined the current research on the benefits of dance programs and classes for older adults and compared the benefits for adults ages 55-84 years versus adults ages 85 years and older. Methods included an extensive literature review resulting in the inclusion of 21 articles utilizing the following search terms: “Dance” AND “Geriatrics” OR “Older adults” OR “elderly.” Results: Adults 55 and older may utilize dance to improve overall quality of life as it provides social interaction, an increase in cognitive effects of the brain, and overall improved balance and motor coordination. However, there was little research about the positive effects of dance that includes the older geriatric population (85 years and older). There were many similarities in the positive effects of dance between healthy individuals over 55 years old and older adults with pre-existing conditions. Conclusions: Dance offers positive physical, cognitive, and social and emotional effects on healthy aging populations, as well as older adults and elderly living with health conditions, that help improve overall quality of life. Further research is necessary to determine if these positive effects may also be generalized to the older geriatric population.


Honors Senior Thesis; Honors in the Discipline; OT 494 Undergraduate Scholarship Practicum II; Scholarship and Creative Arts Day (SCAD)