RSCDS Falkirk

Medical Proof of SCD Being Good for Health

Two studies have shown that Scottish Country Dancing has extensive physical fitness and psychosocial benefits.

Research by the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow, Great Britain)

Researchers at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow studied 70 women between the ages of 60 and 85 years; half were Scottish Country Dancers, the remainder participated in other physical activities such as swimming, walking, golf, and keep-fit classes.

The women were assessed on their strength, stamina, flexibility and balance. They all compared favourably with the average fitness levels for women in their age range, but the Scottish Country Dancers were shown to have more agility, stronger legs and to be able to walk more briskly than people who took part in other forms of exercise.

Dr. Paul Dougall, a Senior Lecturer and expert in dance and drama at Strathclyde, led the research. He said;-

It's generally assumed that dancing is good exercise, but we wanted to measure whether Scottish Country Dancing has specific health benefits.

We chose to study this particular type of dancing partly because it is very popular with older people in Scotland, but also because it has steps which have to be followed precisely. This calls for a particular level of physical fitness and mental alertness, and the dancers who took part in the study were experienced - they have all been dancing for at least 5 years, some for 30 years or more.

Not only is country dancing enjoyable and sociable, but there also appears to be clear evidence that it's an effective recreational exercise for particular types of fitness later in life.

Irene Harper, a participant in the study, has been practising Scottish country dancing for nearly 60 years and teaching it for more than 40 years. She said;-

Scottish country dancing is not only good for the cardiovascular system - it helps to keep the mind active and retain healthy bones.

It's an excellent form of exercise which brings men, women and children together socially, learning new and old dances in a very friendly relaxed atmosphere, creating a community spirit.

Strathclyde University Scottish Country Dancing study news clipping
Research Publicity

The Scottish press and radio picked up on the research and in August (2010) ran several articles and interviews publicising country dancing. Among those interviewed were Liz Foster, RSCDS Executive officer, and other senior members of the Society, including Jean Martin, former Chairman, and John Wilkinson, former Schools Director.

Research by the Caledonian University (Glasgow, Great Britain)

In the 2nd study, Glasgow Caledonian University Division of Physiotherapy investigated the psychosocial benefits for older adults participating in Scottish Country Dancing, and whether men and women had different motives for taking part. Fourteen men (mean age 66) and 18 women (mean age 64) who regularly attended RSCDS classes completed a questionnaire, which showed that intrinsic drivers (participation in exercise for pleasure and satisfaction of the activity) were more significant for both men and women than extrinsic drivers (for example, appearance and weight management). A smaller number of men and women attended focus groups.


The results of the men's focus group showed that enjoyment of dance was the major motivating factor for participating in SCD. For women the main motivators were enjoyment, good health and social network. The study concluded that individuals are motivated to dance mainly for enjoyment and social interaction, which are important for maintaining positive mental health in older people, while good physical health was merely a beneficial by-product.

So there you have it

Scottish Country Dancing is fun and it does you good, physically and mentally, all the way through life.

RSCDS Members' Magazine, October 2010, page 12