Increasing numbers of people are using dance workouts as a way of exercising. You don’t need to be a great dancer to enjoy the health benefits of dancing. Poor co-ordination can be overcome and so can two left feet. One of the purposes of dance workouts as exercise is to give enjoyment in moving to music. So this is an exercise form suitable to help people of all ages and sizes to stay in shape. A person weighing 147 lbs. doing ballroom dancing uses up about 3.5 calories per minute. Therefore 45 minutes would burn up 157 calories which is equivalent to about half a chocolate bar.There are many forms of dance such as folk dance, tap, jazz, flamenco all of which I have mentioned elsewhere.They are perfectly suitable for dance workouts.
Dancing can be a really good mind-body-spirit workout. Physical activity in general keeps ones body and brain healthy as we age. Excercise increases the amounts of brain chemicals that encourage nerve cells to grow.Dancing itself improves memory skills as it requires remembering dance steps and sequences. 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. Reseach also has shown that some people with Alzheimer’s disease can recall forgotten memories when they do dance steps to music they used to know. It is worth stating again that dance helps people of all ages and physical limitations to get and stay in shape. There is even chair and wheelchair dancing. The benefits of dance workouts are the same as other low-impact weight bearing activities such as walking fast, cycling or low impact aerobics. This form of exercise also strengthens bones and muscles without stressing the joints. It tones the whole body and improves posture and balance. There is an increase in stamina and flexibility and a reduction in stress and tension. Confidence improves and the classes can also help prevent diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis and depression. Dance workouts are a great activity for people aged 50 and over because it is possible to vary the level of physical exertion so easily. People can start slowly and increase activity by adding moves such as dips and turns and other new dance steps as they build up stamina.
Although some dance forms are more vigorous than others, jazz for example, is more energetic than the waltz all beginners classes should start out slowly. Ballroom dance, line dancing and other kinds of social dance are most popular among people 50 and older. This group particularly enjoys the social aspect whilst getting exercise and having fun at the same time. Classes do not necesarily require attending with a partner.
Before starting on a dance workout or any other exercise programme the following questions need to be answered:-
1. Do you have a heart condition and your doctor recommended that you consult before undertaking an excercise programme?
2. Do you have chest pains when you do physical activity?
3. In the past month have you suffered chest pain when not doing physical activity?
4. Do you suffer from dizzyness and balance problems?
5. Do you have bone or joint problems made worse by changes of physical activity levels?
6. Are you taking prescription drugs for blood pressure or a heart condition?
7. Any other reasons which make you wonder if this physical activity might not be good for you?
If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions go and see your doctor and ask his advice.
If you are not immediately attracted to a specific kind of dance – experiment! If you used to dance and are getting back into it, you can pick up where you left off. When you join a class give it some time before deciding it’s not for you.Going with a friend always helps.
There are wonderful examples of people forming dance troupes and setting up dance workout sessions. One 61 year old helped form a troupe which performs in local retirement homes, nursing homes and at community events. There are 37 members who perform clogging andIrish routines. Ages range from 9 to 62. The members get healthy exercise and perform a useful community service at the same time.
One day more than 10 years ago Susan Horton set up her boom box and played “macarana” in the middle of a mall and invited shoppers to join her for a morning dance. To-day the group numbers about 30 men and women in an age range from about 55 to 85. They dance straight through for an hour usually getting through about 20 dances. These dance workouts are free and open to people of all ages.
If you can’t or don’t want to take a course put on some music and dance around the house. Don’t forget no matter where you are dancing to spend time “warming up” to avoid injury.
Anyone who dances experiences the benefits to mind-body-and spirit that this form of physical activity bestows.