Great American Dance

Dance For The Health Of It!!

 

We all know that Square Dancing is Fun, but is the activity a healthy form of exercise? You bet it is. It’s one of the best activities for both physical and mental health. A report a few years ago by the Mayo Clinic named square dancing the number 1 aerobic exercise, and the number 3 mental exercise. Other reports have had similar things to say.

 

Here’s a 1994 report: Jazz up your fitness routine with a regular dose of dancing!

Evelyn resolved that in 1994 she’d exercise regularly. But it’s only the beginning of the new year and she’s already bored with her new stationary bike. The rowing machine and treadmill at the YMCA hold little appeal. When a friend coaxed her to go along for an evening of free dance lessons, she realized exercise doesn’t have to be a chore.

 

It’s true. Whether you’re swirling across the dance floor to a Strauss Waltz or doing do-si-dos to the commands of a square dance caller, you’re getting exercise - and probably having fun too.

Dancing pairs you up with more than a partner. From burning calories to socializing with friends, dancing offers these health benefits:

 

Calories - Dancing can burn as many calories as walking, swimming or riding a bicycle.

 

During a half-hour of dancing you can burn between 200 and 400 calories. Cardiovascular

 

Conditioning - Regular exercise can lead to a slower heart rate, lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol profile. Experts typically recommend 30 - 40 minutes of continuous activity three or four times a week.

 

Strong Bones - The side to side movements of many dances strengthens your weight bearing bones (tibia, fibula and femur) and can help prevent or slow loss of bone mass (osteoporosis).

 

Rehabilitation - If you’re recovering from heart or knee surgery, movement may be part of your rehabilitation. Dancing is a positive alternative to aerobic dancing or jogging.

 

Sociability - Dancing contains a social component that solitary fitness endeavors do not. It gives you an opportunity to develop strong social ties which contribute to self-esteem and a positive outlook.

 

Tomorrow night when you consider settling down for a little television, turn on the music instead. After a few spins around the living room, you’ll have so much fun you may forget you’re exercising.

 

In another report: Live Ten Years Longer!

Square Dancing will add ten years to your life, a surprising new study shows. Dr. Arron Blackburn states "it’s clear that square dancing is the perfect exercise. It combines all positive aspects of intense physical exercise with none of the negative elements."

 

Dr. Blackburn said square dancing is a low impact activity requiring constant movement and quick directional changes that help keep the body in shape. The study was based on their physical examination which indicated that both female and male square dancers could expect to live well into their 80's.

 

Square dance movements raise heart rates like many good aerobic exercises should. All the quick changes of direction loosen and tone up the muscles--but not so severally as to cause injury. In square dancing, when you’re not moving, you’re clapping hands and tapping your feet, which all contributes to long term fitness.

 

"You don’t see a lot of 55 year old basketball players, but that’s just the age when square dancers are hitting their peak", he said.

 

And from WebMD:

Regardless of your age, square dancing is good for the body and the mind. Plus, it's a great way to meet a 'partner.' By Denise Mann, WebMD Medical News

 

July 9, 2001 -- "Bow to your partner, bow to your corner, circle left, allemande left ... swing and promenade home."

 

In squares of eight across the country, Americans from senior-citizen age on down are linking arms, sashaying, and "do-si-doing" themselves to longer, healthier, and happier lives. They're having a blast and also lowering their risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer, age-related memory loss, osteoporosis, and depression.

Good for Body and Mind

 

With all its moving, twisting, and turning, square dancing provides more than the daily dose of heart- and bone-healthy physical activity. Remembering all the calls -- from "do-si-do" to 'alemand' -- keeps the mind sharp, potentially staving off age-related memory loss, experts say. And the companionship that regular square dancing offers is an antidote to depression and loneliness, a statement confirmed by square-dancing advocates everywhere.

 

Take Larry McKinley, a 62-year-old who has been square dancing for 30-plus years with his wife, Sue -- who, incidentally, he met at a square dance. "We do it as often as we can, maybe five or six times a week," he tells WebMD.

 

"The listening -- and executing the commands -- takes deep concentration. The twisting and turning are not too hard on you, but give your body the exercise that it needs," he says.

McKinley's club, the London Bridge Square Dance Club of Lake Havasu, Ariz., has 80 members, and the average age of a member is 75.

 

"We recently graduated an 84-year-old," he says. "Graduated," in square-dancing terms, means the student has earned a Mainstream dance level.

 

"It's very easy once you learn," he says. "Years ago, I was getting a divorce and didn't want to be a bump on a barstool." That's when he went to his first dance and got hooked.

"It's just so much fun. Square dancing is setting friendship to music," he says.