Poi danc­ing into old age im­proves health

East and Bays Courier - - OUT & ABOUT - STAFF RE­PORTER

Maori poi danc­ing helps el­derly peo­ple im­prove their bal­ance and mem­ory, ac­cord­ing to a new clin­i­cal trial in Auck­land.

Poi, a tra­di­tional Maori dance, in­volves weights on the ends of cords be­ing spun in cir­cu­lar pat­terns.

The ran­domised con­trolled trial in­volved 79 healthy adults aged 60 or older, and was con­ducted by the Cen­tre for Brain Re­search and the Dance Stud­ies Pro­gramme at the Univer­sity of Auck­land.

Par­tic­i­pants were as­signed to ei­ther a Poi group or a Tai Chi group, and took part in two lessons a week over the course of a month.

Both groups showed much bet­ter bal­ance, grip strength, mem­ory and at­ten­tion fol­low­ing the pro­gramme.

Poi par­tic­i­pants also re­ported bet­ter co­or­di­na­tion and flex­i­bil­ity, and said they had fun en­joy­ing the chal­lenge of learn­ing a new skill.

The study was led by doc­toral stu­dent Kate Riegle van West, who has a back­ground as a cir­cus per­former, mu­si­cian and dig­i­tal artist.

‘‘This re­search shows that poi may be a promis­ing tool for main­tain­ing or im­prov­ing qual­ity of life in old age,’’ Riegle van West said.

She hoped the study would pave the way for fu­ture re­search on poi and health.

SUP­PLIED

Poi danc­ing im­proves qual­ity of life.

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