5 Upbeat Songs To Inspire Dancing For Older Adults

letting the music move you, you can get some much-needed exercise and maybe even some stress relief. Here are just five of my favorite songs for getting folks in my music therapy groups moving to the music, along with some starting ideas for how to dance with music: 1. I’m Walkin’ – Fats Domino

This early rock and roll tune is at a nice tempo either for walking or for tapping toes or marching feet during chair exercises. Try walking/marching/tapping for every repetition of the chorus (“I’m walkin’ yes indeed/I’m talkin’ ’bout you and me/I’m hopin’ that you’ll come back to me”). Mix in other exercises on the other lyrics.

2. Jump In The Line – Harry Belafonte

As you might imagine, this is a great song for a conga line. In case you need further inspiration, though, you might try moving your arms Carmen Miranda-style, or add a shaker for some extra rhythm. Of course, this is a great song for a conga line,

3. Land Of 1000 Dances – Wilson Pickett

Do you know how to mash potato or do the alligator? Those are just a couple of the dance moves mentioned in this upbeat song. You can try some of those original moves or invent your own. Oh, and singing along with the “na-na-na-na-na” part is mandatory.

4. Fun, Fun, Fun – The Beach Boys

This song is quick and short, which may not leave a lot of time for changing movements, especially for folks that take some time to catch on to a new move. I always wave my arms above my head for the repeated line “fun, fun, fun ’til her daddy takes her T-Bird away” – this is a nice structural anchor to get back in sync with the music if someone has lost the pulse.

5. Pennsylvania Polka – Frank Yankovic

That you can dance the polka with this song is obvious, but for those who are not able to do that high-energy dance, you can imitate the hopping movement in the feet or fill in handclaps before the line “the Pennsylvania Polka,” as demonstrated on this video from the Lawrence Welk Show.

I could list many more songs, but I’d also love to hear from you. What are you favorite songs for moving and grooving?]]>


  1. JoAnn Jordan (@JordanEM) on July 26, 2013 at 7:25 am

    “The Twist” is also fun.

    • soundscapemusictherapy on July 29, 2013 at 10:22 am

      Good one, JoAnn!

    • Corky Alexander on November 22, 2013 at 1:53 pm

      Thanks so much, I use “The Swim” and wear out Woody,Arlo Guthrie and family’s “Grow Big Songs” which have adult voices. Keep helping me.

      • soundscapemusictherapy on November 22, 2013 at 2:04 pm

        Great suggestion for “Grow Big Songs,” Corky. I’ll have to revisit that one. Thanks!

  2. Michelle Olson on July 30, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Love this Rachelle!! Who doesn’t love to move to some music?! Good for all ages 🙂

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