Dancing: Good For Hearts And Minds

When you see Frankie Manning on the dance floor, you'd never guess how old he is. For now, let's just say he doesn't look his age.

"If I wasn't dancing, I don't think I would have reached this age," Manning says.

This dancer and teacher may be on to something, CBS News correspondent Richard Schlesinger reports. Many doctors say dancing is a perfect way for people of any age to get cardiovascular exercise. And since it's fun, people might actually spend more time on the dance floor than they would at the gym.

Manning says it beats a treadmill.

"With the treadmill, you get on that thing and you'll be walking and walking and walking, you know, by yourself. When you get on the dance floor, you're walking and walking with a young lady," he explains.

Doctors like cardiologist Suzanne Steinbaum have started prescribing dancing for patients who might not exercise any other way.

"Just enjoy it. Don't pay attention, don't criticize yourself; just have a great time and get your heart rate up," Steinbaum says.

Dancing might be good not just for your heart, but also for your mind. A recent study showed older people who took up ballroom dancing had a reduced risk of dementia. The theory is that remembering all the dance steps exercises the brain.

Manning has had his problems, not unusual for his age. He is 92 years old — and he doesn't look it.

"I had a prostate removed. I had a knee surgery. I had a hip replacement. I have a hearing aid, all those things like that," he says. But that heart? "But that heart is still beating and it keeps my feet a-moving, boy," Manning says.

According to his driver's license, Manning was born May 26, 1914. He'll be 93 soon — long in the tooth, but still light on his feet.



If you're interested, Spirit Of Women, a network of hospitals, is sponsoring a day of "Dance for Health" this weekend.