Re-connecting with the world through Tango ≈ T.Dance compared to Mindfulness Meditation…

…and a waiting-list control: A randomised trial for treating depression. Objectives: To determine whether tango dancing is as effective as mindfulness meditation in reducing symptoms of psychological stress, anxiety and depression, and in promoting well-being. Design: This study employed analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) and multiple regression analysis. Participants: Ninety-seven people with self-declared depression were randomised into tango dance or mindfulness meditation classes, or to control/waiting-list. Setting: classes were conducted in a venue suitable for both activities in the metropolitan area of Sydney, Australia. Interventions: Participants completed six-week programmes (1½ h/week of tango or meditation). The outcome measures were assessed at pre-test and post-test. Main outcome measures: Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale; The Self Esteem Scale; Satisfaction with Life Scale, and Mindful Attention Awareness Scale. Results: Sixty-six participants completed the program and were included in the statistical analysis. Depression levels were significantly reduced in the tango (effect size d = 0.50, p = .010), and meditation groups (effect size d = 0.54, p = .025), relative to waiting-list controls. Stress levels were significantly reduced only in the tango group (effect size d = 0.45,

p = .022). Attending tango classes was a significant predictor for the increased levels of mindfulness R2 = .10, adjusted R2 = .07, F (2,59) = 3.42, p = .039. Conclusion: Mindfulness-meditation and tango dance could be effective complementary adjuncts for the treatment of depression and/or inclusion in stress management programmes. Subsequent trials are called to explore the therapeutic mechanisms involved. Authors: Rosa Pinniger, Rhonda F. Browna, Einar B. Thorsteinssona, Patricia McKinleyb. – Re-connecting with the world through Tango:Tango dancing could add a new dimension of enjoyment to the lives of older people with a visual impairment.“Tango dancing is an ideal activity for people with age-related macular degeneration,” said Rosa Pinniger, a researcher from the University of New England who is planning a program of tango classes in Sydney to test this hypothesis. “Tango is conducted at a walking pace and is performed within a supportive embrace, the partner providing helpful sensory information for navigating through space,” Ms Pinniger explained. “In Tango, the most important thing is to be in the present moment, connecting totally with the partner – two people moving as one. In order to achieve this, the follower must pay full attention and focus on the leader’s movements – and in fact it is easier to do this with closed eyes so as not to get distracted.” Ms Pinniger’s “tango trial” in Sydney, to begin in February 2011, is part of an international study on “the feasibility of using an Argentine Tango program for improving mood in individuals with age-related macular degeneration (ARMD)”. It follows a pilot study last year by Associate Professor Patricia McKinley of McGill University in Canada in which all of the ARMD-affected participants responded positively – and with pleasure – to the dance. Dr McKinley, who is co-supervisor (with UNE’s Dr Rhonda Brown and Dr Einar Thorsteinsson)  of Ms

Pinniger’s doctoral research, will travel to Australia for the Sydney program. Ms Pinniger has already conducted tango programs that have demonstrated beneficial effects for participants with depression or anxiety. “The aim of this new study is to assess the potential of tango dancing for promoting and enhancing mobility, social interaction, and a sense of wellbeing in seniors with ARMD – or any serious visual impairment,” she said. She is seeking participants in the Sydney trial, and anyone The program will comprise two tango classes a week for four weeks (Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10.30 am to midday) at the Pyrmont Community Centre, starting on Tuesday 8 February. Each class will run for an hour and a half, with a break in the middle. The classes will be free of charge, with expert instructors as dance partners for the participants.“ARMD is the leading cause of irreversible visual impairment in adults over 50 years of age around the world,” Ms Pinniger explained. “It results in the loss of central vision (although some peripheral vision may remain), so it is difficult or impossible for those affected to recognise faces, to read, to engage in other activities – such as playing cards or knitting – that they have always enjoyed, and to move around without fear of falling. The emotional consequences can be devastating – including reduced levels of wellbeing and greater levels of depression. “We’re investigating the beneficial effects of tango dancing as an activity for which visual impairment is not a disadvantage. On the contrary, visual impairment enhances the connection with a partner during the dance, and thus the enjoyment of it.” Complementary Therapies in Medicine & University of New England

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