Dancing when you have arthritis

12 June 2020
A lady working on a dance video online, a couple dancing together and a mum dancing with her child.

It’s official, dance is good for you! And although we’re currently under restrictions when it comes to socialising, you’ve got plenty of time to take a look online for the type of dance you might like to try. Read more about exercise and arthritis and check out the resources on the We are Undefeatable website - being active while having fun.

“Dance is a great way to keep fit as it includes aerobic exercise, which is good for your heart and lungs,” says Ginny Brown, chief executive officer of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. “It also helps to mobilise joints and is good for gentle muscle stretching and strengthening. Most important, it is an enjoyable, social, creative activity.”

“It’s also a great choice if you want to improve your fitness without having to focus solely on physical exercise,” says Brown. “Just make sure you choose a qualified dance teacher, so that they can advise you how to modify movement to suit your physical needs.” 

What’s also great about dancing is the sheer variety of styles on offer, so you’re bound to find one that you like – and that suits your physical capabilities.  

“Dance is, at its heart, a social activity, so it can be a great way to make friends and enjoy being part of a group,” says Brown. “If you have limited mobility, or are looking for gentle exercise, then social dance styles such as ballroom or sequence dancing are a great option. 

“Some dance teachers offer seated classes and others can accommodate wheelchair users. Any dance style can be adapted to suit your needs – where there’s a will, there’s a way!” 


Many of us love watching BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, with favourite ballroom styles including the foxtrot, and tango.

Good for your heart, a 30-minute class can burn between 30 and 250 calories – the same as jogging, but more fun! Resisting your partner’s body strength builds up muscle and, as it is a weight-resisting activity, it builds bone strength. 

Para Dance UK specialises in ballroom and Latin dance for wheelchair users. 

Line dancing 

This is where people dance in one or more lines, all facing in the same direction and stepping at the same time to music. There’s no contact and you are part of a group, so you can go on your own and make new friends. 

Clapping, kicking, whooping, it’s all there. It helps improve coordination, while the feet stomping can help to build up bone density. The fact that you have to remember steps keeps the brain

Similar to ballroom with added zing! Dances include salsa, mambo, merengue, cha-cha and the paso doble... Classes often include both ballroom and Latin dances and, like the former, you have a partner and have to learn steps, so it’s a good cardio workout that helps build muscles and bone density.


The original street dance that started in the US in the 30s. The metal taps on the heel and toe of tap shoes make a fantastic sound that you incorporate into choreographed dances. 

No partners needed here and, as it makes your heart beat faster, it’s good for your heart health as well as conditioning, coordination and flexibility. It’s also all about balance, so it’s good for improving your posture. 


Adult ballet is burgeoning in popularity, with barre classes (using the handrail) also an option. This form incorporates some of the moves without the dance element. Ballet really helps with posture, developing and lengthening muscles and is great for co-ordination as well as resistance workout. 

Belly dancing 

Hailing from Egypt, this exotic, expressionist dance involves complicated movements in your belly area. It is tricky to ‘roll’ the stomach muscles from top to bottom, but once you’ve mastered it you will find it tones your tummy, shapes your waist and is good for coordination and focus. 

It doesn’t matter what shape you are – this gives you the chance to express yourself through movement. 

More information 

To find a qualified dance teacher with specialist knowledge near you, go to the dance-teachers.org website Age UK also runs dance classes nationwide.

This article is from our Inspire magazine. Read more from our Inspire magazine here.

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