Let’s dance – A great way to good health

 A multi-ethnic group of adult women are dancing in a fitness studio. They are wearing athletic clothes. An Ethnic woman is smiling while dancing in the foreground.

Let’s dance – A great way to good health

The hit show “Dancing with the Stars” has made a huge impression on reviving the beautiful art form of dance in the last few years.  I’m sure more than a few of us have tried to perfect some of the moves made on that program.  Anyone who thinks booging to a beat is just simply a fun spin on the dance floor has it all wrong.  Even research shows investing in dancing shoes instead of tennis shoes may be your ticket to your best health yet.

The many health benefits of dance

Dance takes on many different forms ranging from ballroom, jazz, tap, ballet, modern, and hip-hop to name a few.  It is considered to be a multidimensional type of physical activity that integrates a combination of physical, cognitive, emotional, and social elements.  It has been known that dance can have many benefits in regards to health.  One study found that frequent dancing (three or more times a week) was associated with a 76% reduction in dementia risk.

Besides reduction in dementia, here are other reasons to consider taking up dancing as a fun way to get in shape:

·      Burn calories – When you “cut a rug,” the amount of calories you burn is huge. Dancing is all about moving your body and when you move your body it’s a great way to burn calories. How many you will burn depends on how vigorously you dance.  Generally, in a one-hour sessions you can burn between 250-400 calories.

·      Better balance and coordination – In order to perfect dance moves, it takes coordination and lots of balance.  The more you practice, the more graceful and poise you possess leading to a more coordinated fashion in which you move, even when off the dance floor.

·      Builds strong bones and joints – Dance is a weight-bearing exercise making it perfect for building strong bones and joints.  When you perform moves that stress the bones, it helps increase bone density reducing the risk for osteoporosis.  Your joints will benefit by receiving extra lubrication from the extra movement.

·      Great way to meet new people – You can dance alone but if taking it up as a form of exercise, you likely will be in a classroom of fellow dancers.  What a better way to mix with others sharing the same passion of dance.

·      Improves memory – While aerobic activities such as brisk walking are encouraged, dancing was found through research to help protect our brains from aging better. The reason for this is that dancing often requires a lot of memorization and learning, while taking a walk does not involve that.

·      It provides a mental escape – Whenever you need a mental break from time to time, put on some music and dance. A 2014 study found positive changes in mood in those who relied on dancing.  Participants who danced had higher energy levels and were less tense compared with those who did not dance.  Also the “rhythmic” movement of dance has been shown to trigger the release of endorphins which can boost mood.

·      Dancing has no age limit – Dancing is an inclusive art form with no age boundaries. Movement is good for everyone, no matter what their age.  Whether you’re dancing to the “Hokey Pokey” or “Flashdance,” the movements of dance force you to use and feel your muscles, bones, and joints. Even just tapping ones foot to the beat of the music can be considered a form of “dance.”  Add in some arm movements and swaying of the hips and you’re well on your way to expressing yourself and getting yourself in better shape.