In previous blogs, I have written many times about all the reasons why ballroom dancing is healthy for you. Most recently, you may have read about the mind-body connection of dance and slowing down the aging process. This week is #health and #fitness week, so we will be revisiting some of those ideas and facts! Keep in mind that health relates both to our mental and physical selves!
First, we will talk about the mental health benefits of ballroom dance. One thing that really stands out the most is how our lifestyle affects our happiness. Do you believe who you surround yourself affects your choices? I definitely do. We have a phrase in Arthur Murray that keeps coming up, “Arthur Murray Lifestyle.” When you are involved in learning to dance at an Arthur Murray, it definitely becomes a lifestyle, or shall we say, a boost or an upgrade in your life. The #ArthurMurrayLifestyle is all-encompassing as you are surrounded by an environment of happiness, fun, and activity. Making new friends, learning new skills and being in an uplifting environment can enhance your overall outlook on life. Dancing has also been known to decrease the feelings of depression and anxiety in many individuals. If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, dancing can be a possible form of therapy.
When it comes to dancing and physical fitness, it is important to know that Americans, in general, have a sedentary lifestyle. I am so lucky that I became a ballroom dancer very early in life so I didn’t become one of the statics that I’m about to share with you. These statistics state that only 1 out of 3 Americans receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week and less than 5% (ouch) participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day *US Department of Health and Human Services Jan. 2017. In addition, more than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. Please note, in one class (private, group, or party) per day of Ballroom dancing you could meet these requirements.
Ballroom dancing is a total body workout using your upper and lower body. Where else are your arms in a lifted position for an extended period of time while engaging your deltoids, lats, and surrounding muscles? I remember when I was in training as an instructor my shoulders were killing me from leading, following, and using my arm styling for extended periods of time.
The lower body comes in to play by using your legs in a vertical and horizontal way as we move in all directions. I have students tell me after their 1st beginner lesson that their hips and legs were sore the next day from moving horizontally. You are using muscles in all directions – forward, back and side to side, as well as bending and elevating onto your toes. The other area that is huge to our fitness levels is our engaging of stabilizing muscles as we stretch and bend into different directions trying to maintain balance. Dancing is a type of exercise that is continuously helping you work on your balance independently and with a partner. The aerobic part comes in to play when you are dancing any dance for an extended period of time. Many times dancing is more like interval training where your heart rate is going up and down depending on what you are working on. Interval training is just as effective as the more even long-term aerobic portion of dance. For example, a fast dance such as a Swing, Mambo, Quickstep or Merengue for 2 minutes will cause your heart rate to spike! You may even be surprised, as you advanced your technique, a slow dance, such as Waltz can get your heart rate up pretty high. As you perform rise and fall, you are using your big muscles, the quads and glutes, which are known to get your heart rate up.
These are many of the ways that dancing adds up on the health and fitness scale. The dancing lifestyle equates to a healthier and more fit you. As a result of moving, bending and balancing, you may notice pounds start to drop, resulting in a more toned body. The best part is it doesn’t “feel” like your exercising. You are just learning and having fun! This positive lifestyle environment leads to our students being more conscious about what they eat, how they spend their time and how to live a happier life.
Live, Love, Dance, and Enjoy,
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