For many of us Irish set dancing is enjoyed as an inexpensive and mild cardio workout, with the added social benefits of having a lot of fun, seeing current friends, and making new friends. However, trying to enlist new enthusiasts to join us in dancing can be difficult. Irish dancing goes through different phases of popularity, with peaks and lows, that are common everywhere. But new research shows that perhaps we can add another benefit to Irish dancing.
Earlier this month there was a very interesting article on the BBC news service where the benefits of dancing were explored. The article, Parkinson's patients test Irish set dancing benefits, mentions an international study that focuses on determining if dancing alleviates some of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. In the Irish Times there is a video clip where you can see some Parkinson's patients dancing an open-air Connemara Set on Inishmore (scroll down the Irish Times article for the video).
Now the research team wants to investigate the efficacy of set dancing on Alzheimer’s Disease. In contrast with Parkinson's disease patients, there likely would be a need for a large number of volunteers to help with the patients.
What we know for sure is that Irish set dancing is a fun social activity, and for that it is worth the effort. If in addition to that benefit Irish set dancing helps patients with degrading physical and, or, mental capacities, that is truly a great outcome.