Wednesday, February 26, 2013
I started ballroom dancing as a teen, and did it because I loved experiencing the different characters of each dance. Every dance provides the opportunity to experience a different emotion. For example, Waltz puts you in a dreamy euphoric state. Where dancing a Rumba brings out the sexy side of yourself, and let’s face it, everybody likes to feel desirable. Throughout my many years of Ballroom and Latin dancing I knew that there were health benefits, but I never REALLY understood that it was more than just exercise. I didn’t put much thought into the health benefits I received on a daily basis. What I did know, was that for countless students I taught, dancing completely enriched and changed their lives. Why?
Because dancing IS the perfect exercise. It is one of the only forms of exercise that taps into ALL of the different parts of health. It provides psychological, social, and aesthetic benefits to providing a fuller life. It can make you slimmer, smarter, healthier, and even safer. Take a look at the examples below.
1) Activates Brain Cells – A University of Illinois study proved activities requiring coordination, such as dance, trigger the growth of blood vessels in the brain and help form extra connections between brain cells. “The key is the learning taking place”, says researcher, William Greenough, Ph.D. “That triggers improved brain functioning if you do it regularly.” If you were a young adult during the 60’s and 70’s, I’m sure you need those extra brain cells!
2) Prevents Heart Attacks – Studies show regular moderate exercise (to within 50 to 75 percent of your heart rate, so that you are perspiring lightly, but can still carry on a conversation) lowers your overall heart rate, blood pressure, and cholesterol. “Dancing involves all the muscles groups of the body, and that guarantees a great workout for your heart”, says cardiologist Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D. “I recommend it to all of my patients.”
3) Melts Pounds Away – The average 140 pound woman can burn 300 calories an hour while ballroom dancing. If you happen to enjoy some of the faster varieties like Swing, Salsa, or Lindy Hop, it will be even more. I remember going Lindy Hop dancing in the height of it’s resurgence, and I don’t think I’ve ever been in better shape! That’s enough to lose almost 16 pounds per year if you dance for one hour, three times a week. Losing that much weight reduces your risk of arthritis and joint diseases. Based on my calculation, in 5 years time I’ll only weigh as much as my 9 year old!
4) Lower Your Risk of Depression – Dancing together helps couples develop a strong bond, which the American Psychological Association says can lower stress and raise self-esteem. I don’t know how many times my students told me they were too stressed out and tired to come and dance. For those who came in anyways, they always left feeling energized, refreshed, and de-stressed. One study found regular dancing may cut your risk of anxiety and depression by 50 percent!
5) Reduce Your Accident Risk by 50 Percent – More than two million Americans every year are injured in falls. Research at Mount Sinai Hospital in Philadelphia reveals dancing can prevent tumbles. This improved balance reduces dancer’s chance of falling by 50%, according to the National Institute of Aging.
So why Ballroom dancing? For the health of it.
Arthur Murray Dance Studio Owner,
Certified Adjudicator, and Mother of Two
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