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Elderly people are being advised to take up tango and ballroom dancing to cut the risk of falls.

Expert Dr Emma Redding says dance classes could help them keep their balance by helping maintain ankle and core strength.

Falls kill almost 5,000 people a year in Britain and are the biggest cause of emergency hospital admissions for pensioners.

Dr Redding said lessons can also help lonely older people get out, while the traditional music may bring back valuable memories for those with dementia.

She told the Cheltenham Science Festival that dancing meant taking physical risks, such as shifting weight from side to side or back to front.

"This makes people much more confident when moving in everyday life," she said. "The postural alignment is very important in preventing falls in older people and could help keep them safe."

Tango and ballroom dancing are particularly suitable because they are slower and those who are frail can rely on support from their partner to keep them balanced. Dance also provides a crucial form of exercise.

Lucy Harmer, a director at charity Independent Age, said: "Dancing increases stamina, and can help with flexibility and balance, all of which can help prevent falls. It can also be a great way to meet people and stay socially active too."