Breathe Dance

For Strength and Balance

Breathe Dance is a pioneering new collaboration between Breathe, Guy’s Hospital Older Persons Assessment Unit Physiotherapy Team, and Dance Practitioner, Stella Howard.

We have co-designed and produced a new service for older patients with vestibular conditions, recovering from stroke and at risk of falls, that explores the impact of dance to improve strength and balance. Falls leave 280,500 people in A&E (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, 2015) and increase frailty, reduce confidence, increase social isolation and reduce independence.

Dance exercises are carefully graded to move participants from the chair, to the barre, to standing unaided over the course of the 10-week course. The results following a pilot and two consecutive cohorts show significant improvements to clinical outcomes and psychosocial measures, in addition to having a positive impact on health and wellbeing.

When I start the class I’m sore but when I finish I feel like I could run out – I feel 30 again. It’s given me confidence and I’ve become friends with the other people taking part.

Breathe Dance Participant

Breathe Dance participants, Alfred and Wendla tell us what the programme has meant for them personally, and the positive impact it has had on their daily live’s in our two short videos below.

Meet Alfred:

Meet Wendla:

What are the benefits of Breathe Dance?

  • 75% of participants saw a significant improvement in their Timed Up and Go (TUAG) assessments. 
  • 74% of participants saw in increase in their strength and balance measured by a clinical assessment chair stand.  
  • 80% of participants saw an increase in their gait (walking) speed.  
  • 100% of participants said the class was an enjoyable experience, many noting the fun and encouraging group atmosphere contributed to the overall success of the class.

Breathe Dance facilitator Stella says:

“I am absolutely loving getting to know such interesting individuals and see their confidence in movement return. I think for many the apprehension on the first session around what a ‘dance’ class might entail, soon wore off, as the joy of connecting and moving with others put everyone at ease.

We aim to forget about the woes of balance and stability, and to enjoy moving. The progression in 10 weeks has been astounding! Several people started the term with walking aids (which they’d keep close by throughout the session). The same people now don’t even have them. The joy of rhythm and connecting with other people, raises the spirits and physical confidence.

The physio studio has become our stage, in which to lift our postures and strut across the floor!”

Check out Breathe Dance in the news:

Southwark News.

I can walk much better, I can sit up and down on a chair without holding the sides, I can even cut my own food up. [...] I've decided not to have an evening carer anymore because I can do the jobs that she does on my own, and that really is a wonderful experience.

Breathe Dance Participant

Breathe Dance during COVID-19 

We are working closely with the Guy’s Physiotherapy Team to reach participants shielding at home through online sessions, and ways to continue Breathe Dance as hospital services start to resume. 

To find out more about Breathe Dance, email