A new study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports examined the potential effects of 16 different exercise types for reducing disability for activities of daily living (ADL) in older women.

Exercise may reduce the risk of disability for activities of daily living (ADL), but the degree of associations between specific exercise types and such risk remains unclear. This study aimed to examine the longitudinal associations between exercise types and the incidence of ADL disability in older women.

The prospective study enrolled 1,003 community-dwelling older Japanese women without ADL disability at the start. In the baseline survey, all participants were asked whether or not they participated in any of 16 exercise types through a face-to-face interview. ADL disability during eight years of follow-up was defined as dependence in at least one ADL task (walking, eating, bathing, dressing, or toileting).

Activities of daily living

ADL disability was noted in 130 participants (13%) during follow-up. After adjusting for confounders, participation in dancing, compared with non-participation, was associated with a 73% significantly lower likelihood for developing ADL disability. There were no significant associations between other exercise types and ADL disability.

"Although it is unclear why dancing alone reduced the risk of ADL disability, dancing requires not only balance, strength, and endurance ability, but also cognitive ability: adaptability and concentration to move according to the music and partner, artistry for graceful and fluid motion, and memory for choreography," said lead author Dr. Yosuke Osuka, of the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology."

We think that these various elements may contribute to the superiority of dancing in maintaining a higher ADL capacity." Activities of daily living disability were noted in 130 participants (13.0%) over the 8?year follow?up period.

After adjustment for confounders and other exercise types, participation in dancing, compared to non?participation, was associated with a significantly lower OR (0.27; 95% CI: 0.09?0.75) for incident ADL disability. There were no significant associations between other exercise types and incident ADL disability.

Dancing was significantly and independently associated with a lower incidence of ADL disability. Thus, dancing may solely contribute to a reduced risk of ADL disability in older women.