Dance Your Way To Better Health

As ABC-TV’s reality show “Dancing with the Stars” has shown, the choice is clear: America loves to watch dancing. Well, how about you create your own reality? Get off the couch and hit a dance class! It has long been known the health benefits of dancing exceed the mere physical advantages.

Not only is it good for your body, but the “good feeling” you get when dancing is good for the mind. This coupled with the fact that dancing is typically a group activity, causing you to interact and enjoy the company of like-minded individuals, makes for a wonderfully social environment.

Since dancing requires you to remember steps and routine it also aids in preventing memory loss among seniors. People of all ages can enjoy a variety of dances whether it’s the sexy salsa or tantalizing tango, the wedding waltz or a foxy fox trot, whether it’s the heart-pounding pace of hip-hop or jazz or even the very sensual belly dance or most-recently-added-to-the-fitness-repertoire pole dancing, you should be able to find a form of dance to work for you.

Benefits of dance

  • Anyone can do it — You don’t need any special skill or ability to dance. If you have the will, you can pick up the skill. Simply enroll in one of the innumerable dance studios in your vicinity or check out your local gym and see if they offer classes. You can also do a couple of DVDS in the comfort of your own living room. (“Dancing With the Stars” has their own!)
  • It’s fun — Does it bore you to get your cardiovascular workout on an elliptical machine, or to ride the stationary bike to nowhere? Does running on a treadmill remind you too much of that little hamster in a ball that you had as a kid? Well then get out there and dance! When done regularly, certain types of dance will provide the same elevated heart rates, and increase metabolism and endurance as any traditional cardiovascular workout.
  • You’re getting a workout without working out — You may be a woman who understands all the benefits of exercise, but just can’t find the time or the motivation to hit the gym. Dance can provide you an excellent workout without it ever feeling like a workout.
  • Improves balance and posture — Have you ever noticed how dancers tend to walk straighter and stand taller? Most dances require you to stand tall, square your shoulders and lead with your chest. This translates to an improved posture off the dance floor. Dance requires agility and balance as well as various speeds of movement. This helps to reduce the risk of falls in an older population.
  • Improved joint mobility — Dances are multi-directional as opposed to the single forward movement of other cardiovascular exercises. This will lead to an improved joint mobility, which will increase your range of motion, thereby making you more flexible.
  • Mental stimulation — Dance requires focus on coordination and remembering routines. Studies have shown people who don’t “zone out” on the treadmill or elliptical machine but stay conscious of their exercise reap higher benefits than those who just climb on and stay on for their designated amount of time. Dance is no different. Dance requires you to be totally mentally engaged with physical movement, which provides a constant mind-body connection.

How to incorporate it into your schedule?

You have a full calendar with your professional and personal commitments, and you’re wondering how you’re going to fit this into your schedule:

  • Instead of hosting a dinner party for a friends birthday, suggest that you and your girlfriends take a dance lesson instead.
  • Meet your best friend at dance class, instead of at coffee.
  • Join a kid-friendly class and encourage your children to join you. There’s no better way to show your children the benefits of exercise than leading by example.
  • Rekindle romance with your partner by signing up for a sensual dance such as the Tango or the Salsa.

As with any form of exercise, use precautions and realize your limitations. Don’t try and do any highly acrobatic moves like those that you see on “Dancing With the Stars.” Those actors practice more than five hours a day with professionals before they perform those intricate routines. Don’t give up even if you feel like you have two left feet; as with anything, if you persevere you will find a remarkable improvement and reap benefits within a short period of time.

So go ahead, lace up those dancing shoes and Change, Challenge and Confuse yourself!

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