Poi dancing into old age improves health
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.
Poi dancing improves quality of life.