Let's go disco! Dancing boosts women's health after the menopause

Dancing may keep post-menopausal women happy, and confident, into old age. (Posed by a model, Getty Images)
Dancing may keep post-menopausal women happy, and confident, into old age. (Posed by a model, Getty Images)

Not everyone needs an excuse to kick off their shoes and dance, but new research suggests getting into the groove may keep women in good health post-menopause.

Many women gain weight after transitioning through "the change", with raised cholesterol and circulating fat also being common in later life.

Any form of exercise is good for us, with experts generally recommending the more the better, and anything is better than nothing.

Writing in the journal Menopause, scientists from the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) report that dancing three times a week may boost a woman's fitness and improve her "lipid profile" after the menopause.

Read more: Chocolate for breakfast helps post-menopausal women burn fat

A regular salsa, tango or waltz class was also found to boost the women's self-esteem.

Mature Woman Experiencing Hot Flush From Menopause
Hot flushes are common during the menopause. (Posed by a model, Getty Images)

“This study highlights the feasibility of a simple intervention, such as a dance class three times weekly, for improving not only fitness and metabolic profile but also self-image and self-esteem in post-menopausal women," said Dr Stephanie Faubion, from the NAMS.

"In addition to these benefits, women also probably enjoyed a sense of camaraderie from the shared experience of learning something new."

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The menopause is a natural part of ageing that usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55.

Most women experience symptoms during "the change", with hot flushes, night sweats and vaginal dryness among the most common.

Many women struggle to stay slim post-menopause, with more weight settling on the abdomen, according to the NAMS scientists. 

This, combined with raised cholesterol and circulating fat levels, increases the risk of heart disease. Although heart disease is often associated with men, 3.5 million women live with it in the UK alone, with 77 women dying from a heart attack every day.

Read more: How to enjoy sex during the menopause

Older women may also be less inclined to exercise, leading to additional weight gain and a risk of falls. 

As a result, post-menopausal women often endure poor self-esteem, which may affect their mental health.

Watch: Salma Hayek reveals her breasts have grown during the menopause

Exercise has been found to ease menopausal symptoms. The NAMS scientists have argued that dancing in particular boosts fitness, while improving a person's balance, posture and strength.

While any physical activity is beneficial, dancing may be particularly appealing due to it being "a pleasant activity with low associated costs and [a] low risk of injury for its practitioners".

All this may enable a post-menopausal woman to live independently – and happily – long into her future, added the scientists.

Watch: The Countess of Wessex wants menopause stigma to end

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