News: Dancing More; Living More conference at City Hall

Tuesday 6 October 2015 by Clare Evans

Photo courtesy London Mayor's Office

Dance and health experts came together this week (Monday 5 Oct) at a special event organised by the London Mayor’s Office at City Hall to look at the benefits of dance in improving health and wellbeing and its potential to reduce health inequalities.

The Dancing More; Living More conference welcomed leading decision makers from local authorities, health and sport institutions and the NHS as well as senior health and dance professionals from across the country to showcase how dance can benefit people who are currently physically inactive and who may not be interested in traditional sport. Award winning choreographer Arlene Philips; Director for London Public Health England, Yvonne Doyle, Executive Director Arts Council England, Laura Dyer and Jan Burkhardt, Public Health Commissioner and health and dance specialist; Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Executive Member for Public Health Leeds; Ian Rodley, Director of DAZL [Dance Action Zone Leeds]; Tim Joss, Chief Executive of AESOP (Arts Enterprise with a Social Purpose); Patrick McGeough, Chief Executive Director for Wheelchair Dance Sport Association (UK) and Fleur Derbyshire-Fox, Director of Engagement English National Ballet Parkinson’s programme were amongst those who attended.

The event focused on issues such as physical inactivity amongst women and girls who are less likely to take part in sport than their male counterparts, the effect dance can have on children in early years and the impact dance has on older people’s well-being, especially those with dementia or Parkinson’s Disease.

To maintain a healthy lifestyle, adults should aim to be moderately active for at least 150 minutes a week. In London only 25% of adults are active enough through a wide range of activities including walking, cycling and sport. There are large parts of the population, particularly women and older people, who may not be interested in sport but for whom dance provides a relaxed and sociable way of keeping active. It has many health benefits including improved movement, balance and cardio-vascular fitness.

As the Mayor’s Big Dance initiative has shown, dance is also hugely popular, attracting people from all ages and backgrounds. It can benefit people’s physical and mental wellbeing, by encouraging them to become more active, it is fun and a social activity that brings communities together. More than 100,000 people were involved in Big Dance in 2014 .

More information about the health benefits of dance is available on the Public Health England National Obesity Observatory: www.noo.org.uk

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