Tango, From The Ballroom To The Therapy Room

Tango has moved from dance halls to therapy rooms for diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s in recent years, while scientific studies have shown that “two by four” benefits health, according to several Argentine experts.

Beyond the feeling of well-being caused by dancing the tango -according to those who frequent the milongas-, it is shown that it improves aerobic capacity and coordination so that it can be beneficial as a therapeutic complement in some ailments.

The last ones to use the traditional River Plate dance are Parkinson’s patients since according to a study carried out by the University of Washington (United States), dancing tango frequently improves the balance more than another type of physical activity.

The medical school of the University of Washington conducted an experiment with 19 patients with Parkinson’s disease that were divided into two groups: one performed movement exercises with chairs, and the other users that time to dance the tango. It was discovered that, while both improved, the seconds increased their balance more.

The Argentine doctor Roberto Pedro, one of the pioneers in the research on therapeutic applications of tango, explains that the ‘two by four’ requires paying particular attention to coordination, so it is “very feasible” to benefit the sick of Parkinson.

Pedro, director of the Life Center of the Argentine Favaloro Foundation, led in 1999 the first study on tango and health with sedentary people and with heart diseases, in which it was concluded that dancing a half hour a day has a direct impact on the increase of capacity aerobic.

Requires coordination

As he explains, this is a characteristic that other physical activities such as walking also have, but the coordination component demanded by tango increases its benefits, especially in sedentary people.

Pedro said that tango “is not better than any other physical activity,” but that other exercises that do not enhance coordination and other less traditional dances.

“If you dance ‘techno’ or disco music, you can make any movement, but in tango, you have to be thinking about the step you have to take,” he said.

The key is the improvement of aerobic capacity, which according to the doctor can even affect the increase in sexual activity and therefore the quality of life, especially in heart patients.

Dancing tango can also favor Alzheimer’s patients, who in fact already participate in ‘tango therapy’ in several centers of the country, precisely because it is a coordination activity and because it forces the patient to exercise their memory to remember the steps.

Also Psychological Benefits

But tango not only heals the body, but it is also good for the mind. The psychiatrist Federico Trossero, author of the book ‘Tangoterapia,’ compliments with tango workshops the treatment of illnesses ranging from depression to social phobias and even schizophrenia.

Observing the way to dance, to embrace the other and the attitude towards the couple, the professionals obtain data that help them to interpret the psyche of their patients better, he assured.

Trossero points out that “tango in itself is therapeutic” and recalls that he began to investigate its clinical application when his acquaintances who danced it said that they felt much better after going to the milonga, where even persistent headaches disappeared.

“It’s amazing, you can see how people enter the sessions with one face and leave with another,” said the doctor. The application of tango in treatments is booming precisely after the publication of the work of the Favaloro Foundation, which has interested professionals from Canada, Japan, Russia or Finland.

Given these studies, tango has become one of the latest additions to therapeutic supplements and has even convened the first International Congress of Tango therapy, which will be held next July in the Argentine city of Rosario.

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