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Front. Aging Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2019.00006

Greek Traditional dances: a way to support intellectual, psychological and motor functions in senior citizens at risk of neurodegeneration

 Styliani Douka1,  Vasiliki I. Zilidou1*, Olympia Lilou1 and Magda Tsolaki1
  • 1Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

One of the major problems that elderly people are facing is dementia. For scientist’s dementia is a medical, social and economic problem, as it has been characterized as the epidemic of the 21st century. Prevention and treatment in the initial stages of dementia are essential, and community awareness and specialization of health professionals are required, with the aim of early and valid diagnosis of the disease. Activities are recommended to the senior citizens to improve their physical and mental health. Dance has been suggested as an appropriate recreational activity for the elderly that brings functional adjustments to the various systems of the body, psychological benefits, and makes exercise to seem interesting and entertaining as it combines the performance of multiple animations with musical accompaniment. A Greek traditional dance program was performed where our sample consisted of 30 healthy elderly and 30 with Mild Cognitive Impairment - MCI. It lasted 24 weeks, two times a week for 60 minutes. Specific traditional dances from all over Greece were selected. The dances were of a moderate intensity at the beginning with a gradual increase in intensity, according to the age and physical abilities of the participants. The results showed a significant improvement in: attention (S4viac-Healthy: z=-3.085, p=0.002; MCI: z=-3.695, p<0.001, S4viti-Healthy: z=-2.800, p=0.005; MCI: z=-3.538, p<0.001), anxiety (Healthy: z=-2.042, p=0.041; MCI: z=-2.168, p=0.030), verbal fluency for MCI (Verflx: t=-2.396, df=29, p=0.023, Verfls: t=-3.619, df=29, p=0.001, Verfmo: t=-3.295, df=29, p=0.003) and in executive functions (FUCAS: z=-2.168, p=0.030). Significant improvement also showed in physical condition (Arm curl– Healthy: z=-3.253, p=0.001; MCI: z=-3.308, p=0.001, Chair stand – Healthy: t=-3.232, df=29, p=0.003; MCI: t=-2.242, df=29, p=0.033, Back scratch– Healthy: z=-1.946, p=0.052; MCI: z=-2.845, p=0.004, Two minute step– Healthy: z=-2.325, p=0.020; MCI: z=-2.625, p=0.009, FootUpandGo– Healthy: z=-4.289, p<0.001; MCI: z=-3.137, p=0.002, Sit and Reach: z=-3.082, p=0.002, Balance on One leg: z=-3.301, p=0.001) and Quality of life (Healthy: z=-1.937, p=0.053; MCI: z=-2.130, p=0.033). This study proves that dancing not only improves the cognitive and physical condition of the elderly but also contributes to a better quality of life.

Keywords: Greek traditional dances, Dementia, Quality of Life, physical health, Mental Health

Received: 15 Jun 2018; Accepted: 10 Jan 2019.

Edited by:

Ashok Kumar, University of Florida, United States

Reviewed by:

Denis Gris, Université de Sherbrooke, Canada
Maria Velana, Ulm University Medical Center, Germany  

Copyright: © 2019 Douka, Zilidou, Lilou and Tsolaki. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: MD. Vasiliki I. Zilidou, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece,