When I was asked to write this article on the health benefits of dance, my first thought was that I didn’t know where to start! There are so many areas in which dance can be helpful, not least the obvious health improvements that any form of exercise can bring.
So then, why is dance such a good form of exercise?
Well, first of all it is a cardiovascular activity – that means that it increases the work done by the heart, circulatory system and lungs, thereby increasing the rate at which the body takes in oxygen and expels carbon dioxide and other toxins. In simple terms, the more efficient your circulatory system becomes the lower your resting heart rate will become. So, more exercise improves the efficiency and strength of your heart and lungs!
Weight bearing exercise
Secondly, dance is a weight-bearing exercise. Weight-bearing exercise has been proven to increase bone density and is, therefore, extremely beneficial in the prevention of osteoporosis and can be beneficial to those already suffering from this condition.
So what makes dance special then, I hear you ask? After all there are other cardiovascular and weight-bearing exercises, so why choose dance?
A whole body workout
Well, virtually all forms of dance exercise the whole body, including the senses. That may surprise you but think about it. What other form of exercise requires you to listen to and respond to music, work out what steps you are going to do next, manoeuvre round other couples on the floor, lead your partner and be aware of their balance (or lack of it!), as well as remember complex step patterns and rhythm changes? So you see, dance (in particular partner dancing) develops balance, posture, musicality, co-ordination, muscular flexibility and strength and even develops your cognitive skills! I recently read an article which claims that ballroom dancing is more beneficial in the prevention of senile dementias than doing crossword puzzles!
Ages 3 to 93……
In addition, to all the above benefits, there are many varied forms of dance which are available to all ages and body types, male or female. From ballroom to ballet, salsa, tango, jive, line dancing, tap, street jazz, latin, sequence, belly dancing, there is a form of dance out there for you. It is not always necessary to have a partner and group classes and private lessons are available at many dance schools throughout the country specifically designed for a variety of different age groups. In fact, in some schools dance is enjoyed by whole families from great granny and grandad right down to granddaughters. In fact, one of my favourite slogans is “from 3 to 93”!
No-one will force you to take exams or enter competitions (unless you really want to!), so if you have been inspired to take to the floor by “Strictly Come Dancing” & “Strictly Dance Fever” , don’t hesitate, phone your local dance school now and open up your life to a whole new healthy and fun way of life which also has the added benefit of meeting new friends.
One simple word of advice – keep safe while you’re dancing. How? Make sure your teacher is a qualified member of one of the leading professional dance organizations. Any qualified teacher should have at the very least an Associate qualification and will be more than willing to confirm this. After all, if you were having a new boiler fitted, you’d make sure you employed a registered Corgi gas fitter wouldn’t you?
Keep happy, keep healthy, KEEP DANCING !!!
(Fellow & Examiner International Dance Teachers Association since 1985)
Principal, Spotlight Danceworld, .