Ballroom dance for persons with multiple sclerosis: a pilot feasibility study

Alexander Ng,Sheri Bunyan,Jimin Suh,Pamela Huenink,Tyler Gregory,Shannon Gambon &Deborah Miller show less
Published online: 13 Jan 2019


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the exercise intensity and feasibility of recreational ballroom dance for persons with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Methods: Seven persons with MS participated in 2 one-hour dance sessions per week for 6weeks. Dance types included rumba, foxtrot, waltz, and push-pull. Six other persons with MS comprised a control group that did not dance. Heart rate and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) were monitored during the sessions. Outcomes included: quality of life, fatigue, depression, self-efficacy, timed up and go, Berg Balance Scale, Dynamic Gait Index and the Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite comprising 9-hole peg test, 25-ft walk test, and Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT), a cognitive test.

Results: Heart rates and RPE indicated that ballroom dance for persons with MS can provide a light to moderate exercise intensity. After the dance program, quality of life and PASAT improved as did the MS Functional Composite Score. No changes were noted in the control group.

Conclusions: Recreational ballroom dance is feasible and can provide an exercise stimulus sufficient to help meet exercise recommendations for persons with multiple sclerosis as well as improve quality of life and cognition in persons with MS.

  • Implications for rehabilitation

  • Exercise or physical activity is important for the health and wellness of persons with multiple sclerosis.

  • Persons with multiple sclerosis often seek information about non-traditional low-impact physical activity.

  • In a small controlled sample, partnered recreational ballroom or social dance for persons with multiple sclerosis has been shown to be feasible and of recommended exercise intensity.

  • Further, partnered recreational ballroom dance for persons with multiple sclerosis can improve measures of quality of life and cognitive function.



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