A comparison of dance interventions in people with Parkinson disease and older adults

M. E. McNeely, R. P. Duncan, G. M. Earhart

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


It is important for our aging population to remain active, particularly those with chronic diseases, like Parkinson disease (PD), which limit mobility. Recent studies in older adults and people with PD suggest dance interventions provide various motor benefits. The literature for dance in PD is growing, but many knowledge gaps remain, relative to what is known in older adults. The purpose of this review is to: (1) detail results of dance intervention studies in older adults and in PD, (2) describe limitations of dance research in these populations, and (3) identify directions for future study. Generally, a wide variety of dance styles have been investigated in older adults, while a more limited subset has been evaluated in PD. Measures vary widely across studies and a lack of standardized outcomes measures hinders cross-studies comparisons. Compared to the dance literature in older adults, there is a notable absence of evidence in the PD literature in outcome domains related to cardiovascular health, muscle strength, body composition, flexibility, and proprioception. As a whole, the dance literature supports substantial and wide-ranging benefits in both populations, but additional effort should be dedicated to well-designed comparative studies using standardized outcome measures to identify optimal treatment programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-16
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Balance
  • Dance
  • Exercise
  • Gait
  • Parkinson disease
  • Physical function


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