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Research finds that online dance classes improve accessibility to physical activity for unpaid carers

Young woman wearing a beige coloured playsuit, dancing in a corridor, with plants and lights on the wall behind her

Research has found online dancing for unpaid carers in the UK to be feasible, accessible and encouraging for carers to start making more time for themselves.

A team of OU academics, Dr Rosaria Gracia, Dr Jo Horne, Dr Nichola Kentzer, led by Dr Jitka Vseteckova, in the OU’s Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies collaborated with academics at the University of Bedfordshire, Anglia Ruskin University and Queens University Belfast, to conduct the six-week dance intervention which was well received by participants.

Dr Jo Horne in the OU’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences is lead author for the paper: Supporting adult unpaid carers via an online dancing intervention: A feasibility/acceptability study, a qualitative study of the suitability of online dance classes to increase access to physical activity for unpaid carers in the UK, which has been published in PLOS Global Public Health.

Dr Horne said:

“Carers often suffer from poor mental and physical health linked to their caring role. Engagement in physical activity has been shown to alleviate these negative health outcomes, but it is harder for carers to find the time, energy and space to exercise because of their caring role. We found an online, group-based exercise programme to be a convenient solution for time limited carers.”

Dr Vseteckova added:

“I am grateful to all agencies involved in the study and for the excellent advice and support that we received from our steering group of experts. It was also an immense pleasure to work with such a strong academic team in four Universities to conduct a study that is characterised not only by its rigour and novelty but also by its practical value to unpaid carers.”

The team is planning a second paper to investigate the physical and psychological benefits of the intervention and would like to work with stakeholders and carers organisations supporting the implementation of online dancing sessions as a provision regularly offered to carers.

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