Acting may seem like an unusual form of exercise for seniors, but it actually has a lot of benefits.
There really is no age limit when it comes to acting. There’s also no set timeframe of when you can become an actor. A lot of people think that they’re “too old” to start a new career and after retirement, wish they never stopped working. We’re here to tell you that you have an amazing opportunity to have fun, learn and fill up any spare time where you would otherwise be bored.
5 Reasons Why Acting is the Best Exercise for Seniors
1. Acting requires memorization, concentration and focus, which can help improve cognitive function.
The New York Times ran an article that talked about a study published by the journal Aging, Neuropsychology and Cognition where 122 older adults took introductory acting classes.
Dr. Helga Noice “did before-and-after testing of participants to gauge the effects of the mental effort involved in learning acting. Significant improvements were found in memory, comprehension, creativity and other cognitive skills. Subjects showed a 19 percent increase in immediate word recall (a test of memory), a 37 percent increase in delayed story recall (a comprehension test) and a 12 percent increase in word fluency (a measure of creativity).”
Musical theater is also beneficial as music plays a large part in brain activity.
Neuroscientist Nina Kraus, Ph.D., of Northwestern University, studies the biology of auditory learning. In her book, Of Sound Mind: How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World, “Nina Kraus examines the partnership of sound and brain, showing for the first time that the processing of sound drives many of the brain’s core functions.”
2. Acting can help reduce anxiety and depression.
Acting provides a creative outlet for emotions, helping people to connect with others and giving them a sense of control. For seniors who may be dealing with retirement, loss of loved ones or other challenges, acting can be especially beneficial.
3. Drama and performance classes help keep seniors active, both mentally and physically.
Acting requires use of your entire body, including muscles that are not often used in other forms of exercise. This helps to prevent stiffness and maintain flexibility. It also helps to improve balance and coordination. When taking an acting class, you may be asked to do warm-ups to loosen you up. Popular warm-ups include:
Work your neck. Roll your neck around forward, side to side, backward
Circle your arms
Stretch your ribs by raising your arms above your head, then leaning to one side, feeling the tension release on your ribcage
Shake everything out
Check out this acting warm-up video called The Body Shake as demonstrated by Geffen Playhouse Manager of Theater Education Brian Allman.
4. Acting requires people to be aware of their surroundings and to react quickly to changes, which helps you stay alert and agile.
Becoming an actor requires you to be very in touch with your surroundings. You need to be able to take in everything around you and use it to enhance your performance. This can be a really useful skill in everyday life as well. If you’re more aware of your surroundings, you’re less likely to miss important details or get caught off guard.
Some people find that they become more patient after taking up acting. Having to sit through long rehearsals can make anyone antsy, but actors learn to just go with the flow. This newfound patience can also help you navigate through difficult situations in your personal lives.
5. Acting can be a social activity, which can help reduce loneliness and isolation.
In a pandemic world, we are becoming increasingly isolated. Many people are looking for ways to reduce loneliness.
Acting can be a great solution because it allows you to interact with other people on a regular basis. It also gives you a chance to explore new aspects of your personality. Acting can help you feel more connected locally and to the world.
If you’re interested in taking up acting in your senior years, you can look into your local community theater. For those of you who aren’t sure if you want to act, there are other ways to be involved…you can work behind the scenes!
You should also consider making an account on DirectSubmit from NYCastings. Here you will find up-to-the-minute casting listings in different areas of the United States. You never know what this could lead to!
We’d love to hear your feedback. Are you a senior actor or someone considering taking up acting? How has it helped you?