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Narrative Review of Dance-based Exercise and Its Specific Impact on Depressive Symptoms in Older Adults

Ray Marks

*Corresponding author: Ray Marks rm226@columbia.edu


Background: Depression is a chronic condition that results in considerable disability, and particularly in later life, severely impacts the life quality of the individual with this condition. The first aim of this review article was to summarize, synthesize, and evaluate the research base concerning the use of dance-based exercises on health status, in general, and secondly, specifically for reducing depressive symptoms, in older adults. A third was to provide directives for professionals who work or are likely to work with this population in the future. Methods: All English language peer reviewed publications detailing the efficacy of dance therapy as an intervention strategy for older people in general, and specifically for minimizing depression and dependence among the elderly were analyzed. Key words: dance therapy and depression were included. Databases used were Academic Search Complete, Cinahl, PubMed, Scopus, PsycINFO, and Web of Science. Results: Collectively, this data reveal dance therapy may be useful as a rehabilitation strategy for older adults, in general, as well as for elders with varying degrees of depression, regardless of strategy employed. Conclusions: Although more research is needed, older individuals with or without chronic depression or depressive symptoms can benefit emotionally from dance based exercise participation. Geriatric clinicians can expect this form of exercise will also heighten the life quality of the older individual with depression or subclinical depression.

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