Dancing is not just fun, it’s good for you too!
Welcome to Social Dancing for Adults!
This week I wanted talk to you a little about the benefits of exercise. Of course when I say “exercise” I mean one of my favorite forms of exercise: dancing. We all know that dancing is considered a moderate exercise, but I thought it might be appropriate to provide you with the Top 5 benefits of why you might want to learn to dance.
Flexibility is an important part of being healthy. I learned many years ago that having strength without flexibility provides you with a very stiff body prone to injury. Dance requires a great amount of flexibility, especially in the back and legs. I try to begin classes with a light warm-up of stretching exercises to help students prepare for their lesson. Dancers must strive to achieve a wide range of motion for all of the major muscle groups. A greater range of motion means that more muscles can flex and extend. Dances like the Tango and Bolero are good examples of dances that require bending and stretching. Performing these dances should cause participants to naturally become more flexible by simply practicing them.
Dancing builds strength naturally by forcing the muscles to resist against a dancer’s own body weight. Many styles of Ballroom dance, like the Waltz, Rumba, and Swing, require participants to build up their leg muscles to perform the dance properly. In the same way, holding a frame properly also requires dancers to build up their back and core muscles. Professional dancers can attest to the effort it takes to perform drops, dips and lifts with their partners. Male dancers usually use weight training in addition to their normal dance practice, to properly perform these flashy techniques. Female dancers must also have great core strength to perform their part as well. We all think that Patrick Swayze simply lifted Jennifer Grey into the air in “Dirty Dancing”, but in reality, both actors had to take on training programs to perform that famous move. Swayze stated in his autobiography, “The Time of My Life” that “despite the fact that Jennifer was very light, when you’re lifting someone in water, even the skinniest little girl can feel like 500 pounds.”
I mentioned above that dancing is a moderate exercise. We all know that exercise helps increase your endurance. Regular dancing is great for improving endurance, especially vigorous dancing such as Swing, Salsa and Cha-Cha. Performing these dances should cause participants to naturally develop stamina by simply practicing them.
The Dance starts at the 1:12 mark…
4. Mental Health
Doctors have stated for years that regular physical activity can help keep your body, including your brain, healthy as you age. Exercise increases the level of brain chemicals that encourage nerve cells to grow. In that same regard, dancing that requires you to remember dance steps and sequences can boost brain power by improving memory skills. A 2003 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that ballroom dancing at least twice a week made people less likely to develop dementia. Research also has shown that some people with Alzheimer’s disease are able to recall forgotten memories when they dance to music they used to know.
5. Sense of Well-Being
Studies have shown that strong social ties and socializing with friends contribute to high self-esteem and a positive outlook. Social Dancing provides many opportunities to meet other people. Joining a dance class can increase self-confidence and build social skills. Because physical activity reduces stress and tension, regular dancing gives an overall sense of well-being.
I am reminded of one student who started coming to my classes. She was a widow and had never danced before because her parents beliefs. After attending my classes for about a year, she decided to go out to a local dance. After attending for several months, she met a very nice gentleman there and one year later they were married. She states to this day that if she had not started taking my class, she would never have developed the confidence to go to that dance. I have always been proud to know that I helped change her life for the better.
Dancing can be magical and transforming. It can breathe new life into a tired soul; make spirits soar; unleash locked-away creativity; unite generations and cultures; inspire new romances or rekindle old ones; trigger long-forgotten memories; and turn sadness into joy. What other motivation do you require? I know a great dance teacher. He’s a real expert in his field. Let me know if you want me to hook you up with a class.
Remember to keep dancing!