Want to improve your health? Get up and dance!

Mark Twain once said: “Sing like no one is listening. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching, and live like it’s heaven on earth.”

There are many health benefits of dancing for kupuna, from improving physical and emotional health to creating strong social connections that increase a sense of well-being.

“I think it enriches one’s life to be able to dance and moving your whole body,” said Lorraine Stringfellow, Makua Alii Senior Center. “Some of our fellow citizens are unable to move like their legs and stuff, but we encourage them to sit in their chair and move along with us.”

As we age, our body loses muscle mass, coordination, flexibility and balance, making you more likely to fall. Dancing can help reverse that.

“The dancing puts your body in positions that you’re not really accustomed to,” said Lot Lau, Makua Alii Senior Center. “I think that part of it helps the balance.”

Studies have also found that it can improve positive feelings, behavior, eating disorders, depression, and communication with those with dementia.

Each February, the City and County of Honolulu hosts the Senior Citizens Valentine’s Dance. This year marks its 49th anniversary.

Hundreds of energetic seniors are expected to cut up the floor on Feb. 6 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center Exhibition Hall.

“This dance is great because as well as just dancing, which is a physical activity, they get the stimulation of meeting their friends,” explained city recreation specialist Steven Santiago. “They get to go out and see people they haven’t seen in awhile. They got to learn new dances. Watch them do the Cupid Shuffle, and they’ll do the old-style dances as well.”

So if you’re a senior searching for a new activity, consider dancing. You could improve your health and even meet a new friend.

“It’s a lot of fun and I’d encourage everybody to see what the fun is all about,” Lau said.

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