Seniors - Synergy Dance Outreach

Seated Dance and Muscle Memory

Come and explore the benefits of Seated dance and muscle memory using our digital, on demand workouts.

Muscle memory has been described as ‘the ability to reproduce a particular movement without conscious thought, acquired as a result of frequent repetition of that movement.’

In other words, your body takes over and performs familiar movements from memory on autopilot. Before this can happen, there is a transition from conscious awareness of a newly acquired movement to the automatic performance of it.

According to neuroscientists, the movements become familiar and mapped in the brain, creating a shorthand between thinking and doing.

How long does it take to develop muscle memory?
The time frame for developing muscle memory varies depending on factors including your age, fitness level and workout complexity.

Regaining muscle memory quickly after a period of inactivity depends on how fit you were initially, how long you had been exercising for, and how long the layoff was.

The effect on the brain
Studies show that the brain is boosted through repeated practice of a physical task. When physiologists talk about muscle memory, they mean the phenomenon whereby previously trained muscles acquire volume and strength after a period of disuse much more quickly than never-trained muscles do when starting from scratch.

Research has demonstrated that changes persist in the muscles themselves. In a study of mice, the nuclei in muscle cells proliferated in response to training and were not lost during subsequent periods of inactivity.

Genetic factors
Another area of research into muscle memory addresses changes in how your genes work in response to your environment and behavior. In the muscle cells, genes get switched on and off in response to exercise in order to make certain proteins. So long-term changes to these genes could drive muscle memory.

Advantages of exercise for building muscle memory

The more you exercise, the more advantages you’ll build up. And researchers believe muscle memory may even be permanent. In a study of men in their 50s to 70s participants completed a resistance training regimen, followed by a non-training period, then a retraining period (each 12 weeks long). Less than eight weeks of retraining were needed to reach the post-training level of greatest strength.

Synergy’s exciting routines to boost muscle memory
ParaStars Dance™ is a seated dance and movement class for adults with a disability or long-term health condition, while ParaStars Progressive Dance™ is for adults and seniors with a disability or long-term health condition. Regular participation in these fun classes will enhance muscle memory, and there are a host of other benefits too.

Upbeat music and fun dance moves boost resilience and fitness in these classes. Participants improve flexibility, muscle strength and wellbeing whilst seated at home or in a residential setting.

Benefits include stress reduction, greater flexibility, toning and fitness and boosting the immune system. Classes include some exercises for upper body only and some exercises for upper and lower body to offer diversity and levels.

Regular attendance will improve core strength, motor skills, improve posture and bring the confidence to learn a new skill. The lessons also help to enhance mental health and aid restful sleep. Our friendly teachers guide you through a range of themes and styles to increase your range of movement, focus on rhythm and boost your wellbeing. Get ready to have fun while you dance! This course is made up of 10 lessons and some props are included.


The Benefits of Yoga as we Age

In light of our new ParaStars yoga programmes and Yoga for mainstream we decided to do some research on the benefits of yoga as we age, and here’s what we found!

Yoga minimises the risk of strain or joint pain for elderly people who want to stay active. It is a wonderful option that can keep you flexible without straining your muscles and boost your mood.

Research suggests that yoga has numerous benefits for older people:

Better sleep habits Yoga can help you sleep soundly. A study found that seniors practising yoga reduced the time it took to fall asleep by ten minutes on average, and sleep duration improved by an average of one hour.

Improve strength and protect joints – even if you have arthritis. One study found that patients with rheumatoid arthritis and those without the condition both experienced better grip strength in the hands after practising yoga. Yoga can reduce the risk of conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Manage type 2 diabetes After practising yoga for 40 days, a group of 30-to 60-year-olds with type 2 diabetes saw a significant fall in their blood sugar levels.

Reduce high blood pressure One study discovered that patients with mild to moderate high blood pressure saw a decline in readings after three months of daily yoga. There was a similar drop in cholesterol, blood sugar and triglycerides.

Lose weight Older people who practise yoga every week for at least four years have around 1.4 kilograms less weight gain than the average adult.

Reduce anxiety and improve mood People who enjoy yoga often report a decline in their anxiety and better mood. Research suggests that yoga is better at this than other forms of exercise. Yoga practice causes high levels of the brain chemical GABA, which calms the body.

Aid chronic pain One study found that those with chronic pain either improved or maintained their symptoms after four weeks of yoga; all patients significantly reduced their pain medication.

Help breathing and the lungs One study discovered that yoga practice can boost lung capacity by 10 per cent after 40 days. Bronchial asthmatics have also benefited from just 30 minutes of yoga breathing techniques.

Bone strength Yoga helps seniors at risk of osteoporosis by slowing bone thinning. Research has shown that it is even possible for older people to gain bone density when practising yoga.

Enhance mental states and prevent cognitive decline Yoga practice can reduce stress and maintain energy levels, which can boost the mind. Various studies have explored yoga’s beneficial effect on stress and anxiety. One study showed that women who completed two yoga classes a week for three months reported less depression and enhanced wellbeing. Regular practice is associated with anatomical changes in the parts of the brain that deal with ageing-related cognitive decline.

Maintain flexibility Yoga minimises the strain associated with strength training and high-intensity exercises. As a low-impact exercise, yoga carries less risk of injury and helps seniors build muscle strength and joint flexibility. Gentle stretches maintain a good range of motion in participants.

Synergy ParaStars Yoga® for Adults & Seniors is a seated yoga programme for adults/the elderly with a disability or long-term health condition or limited range of movement. Benefits for adults and older participants include better posture, fitness, physical and motor skills, spatial awareness, balance, coordination and flexibility as well as the improvements listed above.

This stress relieving programme increases confidence and range of movement and enriches everyday life. The lessons include some exercises for the upper body only and some exercises for both the upper and lower body to offer diversity and different levels.Seniors should start gradually with yoga, especially if they have a long-term health condition. Synergy instructors take into account each participant’s level of fitness and experience when delivering our fun and stimulating yoga classes.

Find out more about online programmes here.

Benefits of Yoga as we age

How Music Eases Stress

How music eases stress and how Sing for Joy can help
Stress affects us both mentally and physically. It can show up as a feeling of being overwhelmed, having racing thoughts, and experiencing anxiety or panic attacks.

A multitude of studies have proved that music can effectively combat stress. While both classical and ambient music are known for their soothing effects, listening to any genre of music brings relief.

How does stress affect the body?
Stress has a biological effect that stimulates the release of certain chemicals in the body. In high stress situations, our blood pressure and heart rate increase, and our adrenal gland starts producing cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’.

In the short-term stress can help us to focus and achieve things, but when too much cortisol is released over time, it can be exhausting and create a state of ‘fight, flight or freeze’. Long-lasting stress can develop into an anxiety disorder, depression, or chronic pain.

How music improves stress symptoms
As well as stimulating positive emotions, listening to music, and singing are associated with better physical health and wellbeing. Singing releases endorphins (hormones which accompany pleasure) and improves our sense of wellbeing.

Through the use of functional MRI scans, a 2011 study demonstrated that music increases dopamine – the ‘feel good’ hormone – in the brain, affecting the same areas that process pleasurable feelings such as the satisfaction of food cravings.

An overview of 349 studies found that 68.5% of musical therapy interventions helped to relieve mental health conditions including schizophrenia, major depression, and bipolar disorder.

One study found that music therapy prevented burnout in operating room staff. Staff who listened to music were less stressed and felt less of an emotional burden.

A 2018 survey found that 62% of participants used music to help them fall asleep, these people were morelikely to have higher quality sleep than those who didn’t listen to music.

Music also played a vital role in improving people’s experiences during the pandemic. A survey of over 5,600 people across 11 countries showed that music helped people to cope and achieve their wellbeing goals during COVID-19 lockdowns.

Research has also proven that listening to music prior to experiencing a stressor yields a faster recovery.

For people with Alzheimer’s disease, which affects many of our clients, music can improve behaviour and cognition. This leads to improved quality of life and symptom relief.Finally, music aids mindfulness. It allows those singing or making music to become immersed in a cathartic activity, calming the distracting stream of consciousness.

How does Sing for Joy use music to ease stress?
We provide enrichment, pleasure, and stimulation for elderly people through inclusive singing sessions. We sing in care homes, hotels and at corporate and social events.

Our objectives are to enable older people to have fun through singing, gentle dance, and movement sessions. Other activities, such as memory recall, enhance participants’ health and wellbeing.

Our enjoyable singing sessions include a sensitive mix of Musical Theatre songs, jazz, sing-along wartime songs, national anthems, opera snippets and fun anthems like Bring Me Sunshine from Morecombe and Wise. We bring along props such as scarves, maracas, and tambourines to encourage audience participation.

Effort is always made to connect on a personal level with each resident. It’s not just about the singing, it’s about providing company and colour to an often-repetitive day.

We provide weekly sessions and often coincide with birthday celebrations or special occasions. We are especially experienced with participants with dementia or Alzheimer’s, people with mental health conditions and those at the end of life – helping to lift mood, provide gentle exercise and bringing a touch of magic to everyday life! Get in touch today and use music to help ease stress!

Find out more about SingForJoy.

Find out more about our charity Synergy Dance® Outreach.

Synergy Dance® Outreach awarded £4950 from the Arts Council’s Let’s Create Jubilee Fund

Arts Council England

Synergy Dance® Outreach awarded £4950-00 from the Arts Council’s Let’s Create Jubilee Fund by Community Foundation for Surrey.

Synergy Dance® Outreach awarded £4950-00 from the Arts Council’s Let’s Create Jubilee Fund by the Community Foundation for Surrey – ensuring that creativity plays an important role in local community celebrations for Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

The Let’s Create Jubilee Fund will ensure that thousands of people from communities all across England will have the opportunity to take part in exciting creative events – all in celebration of the Platinum Jubilee. From puppetry and story creation, through to making crowns, carnival and art trails, there will be a huge range of exciting activities for people of all ages and backgrounds to get involved in.

Synergy Dance® Outreach aim to use this funding to deliver an intergenerational project including singing and dance activities for seniors in care homes/outreach centres together with groups of local young people, that will culminate with an event to tie in with The Big Jubilee Lunch on Sunday 5th June.

Following the success of the first Big Jubilee Lunch, to celebrate Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, The Big Lunch will bring the Jubilee celebrations into the heart of the community again in 2022 and our final performances will take place prior to lunch to entertain the local communities.

We already work with a number of care homes and older peoples’ centres across Surrey and will be working with 2 care homes and 2 children/youth groups in some of the more deprived areas of Guildford including Stoke.

We will do 6 weeks of singing and performance activities leading up to the Jubilee performance and our singing and performance coach will work separately with the older and younger groups to listen to and identify their favourite songs and themes from the last 70 years. We will also start identifying if there are any individuals who have special talents singing or playing music who would like to feature in the performances.

Invitations will be sent to family, friends and members of the local community to attend these performances before the Big Jubilee Lunch put on by the homes at Signature care home Hindhead and QEP Care home Guildford. We will have a professional videographer filming and also live streaming (with appropriate permissions and safeguarding in place).

All of this has been made possible thanks to National Lottery players and administered by UK Community Foundations on behalf of the Arts Council, the Let’s Create Jubilee Fund will support a huge range of projects throughout England. 44 community foundations have been awarding grants across the country.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive at Arts Council England said “The Let’s Create Jubilee Fund is a wonderful example of our ambition to give everyone the opportunity to participate in and experience the arts, culture and creativity – made possible thanks to National Lottery players. This June, we’ll see communities across England coming together to celebrate a historic milestone for this country. I’m excited to see these projects brought to life in villages, towns and cities across the country as our wonderfully creative communities celebrate The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.”

Rosemary Macdonald, CEO, UK Community Foundations, said: “For community foundations, people and places are the priority and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is a unique opportunity for people to get together and celebrate in their communities. We are proud to have connected Arts Council England with local organisations whose imaginative and exciting projects and collaborations with professional artists will bring communities together to enjoy marking this milestone moment in our history.”

HM The Queen Elizabeth II is the first monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, having overtaken Queen Victoria as the longest reigning monarch in 2015.  Her reign has been marked by a commitment to public service, reflected by her extensive programme of engagements at home and abroad, and support for over 600 cultural organisations, charities, military associations, professional bodies and public service organisations.


About The Arts Council England

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high quality cultural experiences. We invest public money from Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and to deliver this vision. www.artscouncil.org.uk


About UK Community Foundations

UK Community Foundations is the membership organisation for the national network of 47 accredited community foundations across the UK. UKCF members inspire local philanthropy, bring communities together and fund great ideas.  We have a deep understanding of need in our communities and the challenges and hopes that face them.

UKCF supports community foundations by providing advice, learning and resources, by championing philanthropy at a national level and by developing national programmes that invest in local communities. www.ukcommunityfoundations.org/