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Geriatric Patients “Move to the Beat of the Drum” with Cardio Drumming Classes

Cardio drumming has existed for centuries among cultures in Africa, known as djembe drumming, as a cultural tradition performed during rituals and celebrations.1 Over the years, it has gained popularity for its emotional and physical benefits. It has transitioned from being a ritualistic activity to a modern way to get active. Cardio drumming combines the use of an exercise ball, a platform to hold it, and drumsticks to create a unique workout. Cardio drumming classes are popping up more and more each year. Among the new found popularity, a cardio drumming company called POUND was founded in 2011.2 POUND offers an aerobic component alongside strength training and conditioning, but also offers yoga and pilates-inspired movements.2 The social aspect and inclusivity of cardio drumming programs can benefit geriatric patients by encouraging movement throughout the week. Although there are variations of this activity that exist worldwide, the goal is to provide an alternative option for working out that keeps individuals motivated while benefiting both physically and emotionally.

There are many health benefits when it comes to exercise, especially in the geriatric population. As people become older it sometimes can be more difficult to engage in vigorous exercise. Common complications of aging include increased risk of obesity, osteoarthritis, neck and back pain, diabetes, and dementia.3 Finding fun alternative ways to exercise is important in the geriatric population to stay mobile, improve cardiovascular health, and prolong independence. Additionally, physical activity can decrease the chances of bone and muscle breakdown thus leading to a healthier, longer life. POUND uses specific songs to get an optimal fat burn within the 2-4 minutes song.2 Drumming distracts your brain from the high intensity work you are receiving, by having you focus on rhythm and volume (pound website). Taking a POUND class can improve timing, rhythm, coordination, agility, and endurance.2 These classes are designed for all age groups, and are geriatric friendly as they can be modified to the individual’s abilities. Weighted drumsticks are available for all levels of progression, and participants are able to select a pace that best suits them.2

In addition to physical health, drumming has been shown to improve mental health and cognition. Cardio drumming can reduce depression and anxiety, as well as improve social resilience.4 Older adults with dementia had improvements in cognition, upper extremity ROM and body composition when engaging in cardio drumming programs.5 Music incorporated into physical activity, much like how POUND is structured, can provide an even greater benefit to older adults with dementia. Exposing older adults to music during exercise has been suggested to improve visuospatial processing, and reduce grey and white matter loss in the frontal cortex, leading to a potential delay in cognitive decline.6

Cardio drumming continues to grow and provides a unique option for meeting daily physical activity requirements. Participating offers social, physical, and emotional benefits, and for the geriatric population, they have the added gain of improving effects associated with dementia. By implementing cardio drumming classes into more gyms, nursing homes, and senior centers, it may just increase the longevity and quality of life for many older adults around the world.


“Never too old to drum! Harry & Betty - 98 & 101 years old.”7


  1. Smith, C. , Viljoen, J. , McGeachie, L. & (2014). African drumming. Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine, 15 (6), 441-446. doi: 10.2459/JCM.0000000000000046.
  2. About POUND® - The Rockout Workout. POUND. (2021, May 10). https://poundfit.com/about/.
  3. World Health Organization. (2018, February 5). Ageing and health. World Health Organization.https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ageing-and-health#:~:text=Common%20health%20conditions%20associated%20with,diabetes%2C%20depression%2C%20and%20dementia.
  4. Fancourt, D., Perkins, R., Ascenso, S., Carvalho, L. A., Steptoe, A., & Williamon, A. (2016). Effects of Group Drumming Interventions on Anxiety, Depression, Social Resilience and Inflammatory Immune Response among Mental Health Service Users. PLoS ONE, 11(3). https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A453471344/AONE?u=lom_umichflint&sid=summon&xid=2ee5752a
  5. Miyazaki, A., Okuyama, T., Mori, H., Sato, K., Ichiki, M., & Nouchi, R. (2020). Drum Communication Program Intervention in Older Adults With Cognitive Impairment and Dementia at Nursing Home: Preliminary Evidence From Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 12, 142. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2020.00142
  6. Tabei, K. I., Satoh, M., Ogawa, J. I., Tokita, T., Nakaguchi, N., Nakao, K., Kida, H., & Tomimoto, H. (2017). Physical Exercise with Music Reduces Gray and White Matter Loss in the Frontal Cortex of Elderly People: The Mihama-Kiho Scan Project. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 9, 174. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2017.00174
  7. Never too old to drum! Harry & Betty - 98 & 101 years old. (2019). Northern Michigan Drum Village. https://www.nmidrum.org/workshops/2019/5/29/national-senior-fitness-day-may-29th-independence-village.


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