Breathe Dance for Strength and Balance - Breathe

Breathe Dance for Strength and Balance

Our dance service for older adults delivered in partnership with Guy’s Older Person Assessment Unit Physiotherapy team

Breathe Dance for Strength and Balance is a co-designed programme for older patients with vestibular conditions, recovering from stroke or at risk of falls, that explores the impact of dance to improve strength and balance.

In collaboration with the physiotherapy team at Guy’s Hospital and specialist dance practitioner, Stella Howard, Breathe Dance exercises are carefully graded to move participants from the chair, to the barre, to standing unaided over a 10-week course.

NHS patients are offered the choice of attending our dance classes or a standard physiotherapy course as part of their treatment, giving them an element of control over their own care pathway. The results from our programme show significant improvements to clinical outcomes and psycho-social measures, and a positive impact on health and wellbeing.


74% of participants saw an increase in their strength and balance measured by a clinical assessment chair stand

Falls leave 280,500 people in A&E (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, 2015) and increase frailty, reduce confidence and independence.

Our latest research findings:

  • 75% of participants saw a significant improvement in their Timed Up and Go (TUAG) assessments.
  • 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.
  • 92% reported a positive impact on their experience of the healthcare environment.
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

Comparing the dance classes to the regular Strength and Balance programme, the clinical referring team describe it as a ‘distinctly different and collaborative atmosphere’.

Monitoring data shows that the use of dance movements may increase motivation to engage with the exercises, and participants tell us the incorporation of music with movement make the activity feel more ‘meaningful’.


80% of participants saw an increase in their gait (walking) speed

Dance engages the whole person and makes you aware of your body, even if you only move one small part of it. Each movement has breadth, and it can be expressive. It engages the brain as well as the body. Imagery is important. It involves thinking about your movement in relation to others and the space around you. It can be a collective and shared activity.
Stella Howard, Breathe Dance Leader

Our Partners

Evaluation Report 2020

Read 'Compassionate Care in a Year of Change', a full Evaluation Report on our Performing Arts Programme at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust.

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