Dancing your way to physical and mental wellbeing

Ros Glendinning has designed a physiotherapy-led dance fitness programme that encourages patients to boogie their way to mental and physical fitness

Ros Glendinning
Ros Glendinning, community physiotherapist at Livewell Southwest, Plymouth

As an NHS community physiotherapist, I continuously meet patients who lack motivation. Trying to discover what stimulates them is crucial and I’ve often used music as an icebreaker and motivational tool. Playing favourite tracks on my phone helps transport them to positive memories and helps them to engage in prescribed exercises.

Whilst respecting traditional physio approaches, I’ve realised there’s a need for new ways to encourage exercise. With a dance degree and a fitness instructor qualification I was inspired to create a non-traditional physio approach to help improve the quality of life for my clients and patients.

I developed an interactive community-based dance fitness programme (called CheeziFit) which allows patients to share a common interest in music, exercise, and laughter.

Evidence is often sourced for both the music and the choreography; highlighting recognisable tunes such as ELO’s Mr Blue Sky and Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now; songs that contain upbeat tempos and positive lyrics that help to instil joy and relaxation.

The choreography also benefits varied health conditions. For instance, if a client needs to improve their balance, routines are created incorporating the tandem stance test. Whereas, for a patient with osteoporosis, weight bearing exercises are encouraged. 

If a kyphotic posture needs addressing, ‘think like Darcey Bussell’ resonates; if a client has osteoarthritis, we share the latest NICE guidelines with them, whilst dancing to Freddie Mercury. And laughter often follows.

The choreography is interactive and funny, creating a distraction from the exercise in a community of respect and acceptance. Bonds are forged and retention is high. 

The classes have been received positively by both patients and NHS staff. We find we’re able to transport clients back to music that makes them beam, the exercise and dancing follows naturally, and clients return. 

Therapy-led dance fitness programme we find that we are able to transport clients back to music that makes them beam, the exercise and dancing follows naturally, and clients return.

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