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The Benefits of Learning to Dance...©

By: Jeannie Tucker: jeannie@jeannietucker.com

Are you looking for a way to get in shape, lose weight, and have more fun from your social life, increase self-confidence, learn a new skill and maybe meet that someone special? Then learning to dance might be what you are looking for...The Benefits of Learning to Dance include:
  • Burn Calories - Dancing can burn as many calories as walking, swimming or riding a bicycle. During a half-hour of dancing you can burn between 200 and 400 calories. One factor that determines how many calories you'll expend is the distance you travel. In, one study, researchers attached pedometers to square dancers and found that each person covered five miles in a single evening.
  • Meet New People - Social Dance gives you a safe and comfortable way to meet new people. Dancing contains a social component that solitary fitness endeavors don't.
  • Anti Aging Effects for the Brain - The Einstein Aging Study, summarized in June 19, 2003 New England Journal of Medicine, found that dancing helps prevent dementia. Dementia in the study refers to both Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. Vascular dementia is the 2nd most common form of dementia after Alzheimer's. The study included participants in six brain-stimulating hobbies - reading, writing for pleasure, doing puzzles, board games or playing cards, group discussions and playing music. The study also included participants in 11 physical activities including team sports, swimming, bicycling and dance. Dance was the only physical activity that benefited the brain. This was attributed to the cerebral rather than the physical aspect of dance.
  • Build Strong Bones - The side to side movements of many dances strengthens you weight bearing bones (tibia, fibula and femur) and can help prevent or slow loss of bone mass (osteoporosis).
  • Cardiovascular Conditioning - Regular exercise can lead to a slower heart rate, lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol profile. Experts typically recommend 30 - 40 minutes of continuous activity three or four times a week. Dancing may not provide all the conditioning you need, but it can help. The degree of cardiovascular conditioning depends on how vigorously you dance, how long you dance continuously, and how regularly you do it.
  • Stress Reduction - People plan their dancing to be the part of the week where they can relax and forget their worries. The physical exertion of dancing and the atmosphere of live dancing, creates one of the most effective stress releases available. Social dancing is the best way to relax, while also developing a new hobby.
  • Improve Balance and Posture - Learning to dance teaches you skills that extend into many areas of your life. You'll stand proud, feel healthier, and gain more self-control in everything you do. Dancing is the only true all-around activity that improves both physical and mental well-being. Learning to dance increases grace, poise, body alignment and posture. Core strength is the key to a dancer's control and use of body and timing. Learning to have strength from within the core of your body helps improve how you walk thru your life - ready for action and able to handle it all. The dancer who can hold his own in any social situation will quickly and easily convert this to all aspects of life!
  • Helps Create a Healthier Lifestyle - Learning to dance and focusing on your health and wellness can be the very thing that helps you make other healthy lifestyle changes. People that dance do not tend to drink as much alcohol and they tend to be health minded. Once you start to see improvement in your posture, self-confidence, muscle control and over-all fitness, you will be motivated to continue down that road to a healthier lifestyle.
  • Creative Expression - Dance provides an outlet for you to express your own individual creativity. You learn that emotion can be reflected in dance and movement. Everyone has the ability to dance. Dance is a personal journey that can open the doors to self-expression and emotional freedom. Life can tend to inhibit our creative side but learning to dance allows you to play and express yourself through art. With a good coach, you learn the fundamentals tools that allow you to build your own dance experience.

The health benefits and risks to dancing depend on how much you put into it and different types of dance require varying amount of energy.

If you have heart disease or other medical concerns, check with your doctor before taking up dance as a new activity.

Then consider these steps:

  • Warm up - Before dancing; spend a few minutes stretching your muscles. Practice a few dance steps to prepare your muscles for activity.
  • Pace Yourself - Begin with slower, less demanding rhythms and build up to faster tempos. Easing into activities lessens the chance of pulling or straining a muscle.
  • Know Your Own Limits - Take breaks from dancing if you feel undue fatigue or shortness of breath. If necessary, sit out the next song.

Choose from Salsa, Swing, Country, Ballroom, Contra, Folk, Latin and many other types of social dance to add to your fitness routine. Pick the music that inspires you and learn the dance that fits with it. Your passion for the music will help you stick with the program and make it a fun part of your health and wellness plans. Dance for Fitness - Dance for Life!



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