Hit the Dance Floor!

Hit the Dance Floor!

Ballroom dancing is an antiaging elixir and a fun way to stay fit. Keep reading to learn the health benefits of ballroom dancing.

Physical benefits

Muscle and joint health
“Ballroom dancing is about resistance training,” says competitive dancer Tatiana Keegan. “You use your arms in Latin dances such as the cha-cha, paso doble, and jive. In standard ballroom dances (foxtrot, waltz, and quickstep), you have to stay in the closed position, holding your muscles steady.”

Since ballroom dance moves are multidirectional—unlike the forward motion on treadmills and elliptical trainers—they may enhance joint health. One research study showed an improvement in hip motion and spine flexibility in adults who did three months of dance training.

Cognitive health
Any physical activity that involves coordinating brain and body can strengthen neurons and improve cognitive health. Since there are almost 30 different ballroom dances with at least 18 steps each, this activity activates both body and mind.

Calorie burn
A 150 lb (68 kg) person will burn:

  • 103 calories in 30 minutes of slow dancing
  • 189 calories in 30 minutes of fast dancing

Emotional benefits

Strengthening relationships
“I know a married couple who separated for a couple of years, then decided to get back together,” says Keegan. “Part of their plan for reconciliation was to take ballroom dancing classes. It worked; the classes gave them a common interest and something to do together.”

Ballroom dance also gives couples motivation to exercise.

Therapeutic benefits
Joan Brown started dancing after divorcing her abusive husband after 32 years of marriage. “Ballroom dancing is my most successful therapy,” says this vibrant 53-year-old. “It freed me from depression and keeps me fit. My smile, sense of self-worth, and confidence are back.”

Joan adds that dancing reduces stress, enhances her social life, and reminds her of happy childhood memories.

Confidence building
Many people report feeling released from their thoughts and worries before and after dancing. Like meditation, dancing leaves them feeling focused, happy, and energized. “I’ve heard that dancers never grow old, and now I believe it,” says White.

Tips for getting started

  • Check first with your health practitioner if you have a medical condition such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or emphysema.
  • Arrange to watch a class before you join.
  • Ask the instructor about his/her credentials.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t have a partner; singles are usually welcome.
  • If you have a dance partner, learn to dance together.
  • Wear casual clothes and sneakers; nothing fancy is required to start lessons.
  • Be prepared to practice for 15 minutes a day to reinforce what you’re learning.

Sign me up!

Wondering where to go to learn the cha-cha? Here are a few places to try:

  • Casual dance groups at community halls or recreation centres
  • Lessons offered through adult continuing education programs
  • Social dance groups at universities or colleges
  • Ballroom dance Meetup groups (meetup.com)
  • Formal lessons at dance schools

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