According to the USDA’s physical activity guidelines, adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day. But if working out isn’t your thing, you can gain many physical and mental health benefits while having fun on the dance floor.
Traditional and modern dances commemorating diverse culture’s rituals and celebrations offer an extensive variety of music and movement styles to please every taste. Research shows that dancing regularly can reduce disease risks, ward off illnesses and relieve symptoms. Time flies while this enjoyable form of exercise benefits people of all ages, conditions and skill levels.
Control Your Cholesterol
When you’re struggling to control your cholesterol, taking Niacin or Niaspan can help reduce bad LDL and increase good HDL levels. Your doctor also may encourage exercise because it burns the triglycerides or fat in your veins.Prolonged physical activity stimulates hormones such as epinephrine to break down triglycerides to fulfill energy demands. As an aerobic exercise, dancing improves total blood cholesterol, lowers bad LDL and boosts good HDL levels.
Help Your Heart
Dancing on a regular basis can strengthen your heart, increase your heart rate, lower blood pressure and increase blood circulation. The American Heart Association recommends dancing as aerobic exercise to reduce the risk of heart disease. An Italian study found that people with heart failure who practiced dancing improved their heart health and breathing.
Alleviate Arthritis Symptoms
If you suffer from arthritis or stiffness due to joint movement, dancing may seem like a bad idea. But most dance classes start with warm-up sessions, which include stretches to loosen up your muscles and joints. After just a few lessons, increased joint elasticity will replace limited movement. Continuous dancing can provide lasting improvement in your range of motions. The flexibility, strength and endurance you acquire with dancing can increase your physical confidence and make performing everyday tasks easier.
As a powerful form of weight-bearing exercise, dancing can build bone and prevent bone mass loss without stressing your joints. Many dance styles require movements that strengthen the tibia, fibula and femur. A long-term, regular dance practice can improve your coordination, flexibility, agility, balance and spatial awareness to help avoid falls while preventing osteoporosis.
Whittle Your Weight and Shape
A study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that dancing is as good for weight loss and increased aerobic power as cycling and jogging. Half an hour of constant dancing can burn an estimated 200 to 400 calories. It also improves your muscle tone, so your shape will get an upgrade too. Celebrate these achievements with a happy dance!
Sidestep Excess Stress
Like yoga, dance requires physical exertion and concentration, which help relieve tension in your body and mind. Stress reduction decreases anxiety, anger and ulcers. Researchers reported that tango dancing lowered self-reported stress and anxiety levels in men and women aged 18 to 80.
Dancing enhances general and psychological well-being while increasing self-confidence and self-esteem. It helps relieve depression and feelings of isolation by stimulating the production of endorphin hormones that combat stress. According to a study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, dance contributes to the regulation of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that prevent depression.
Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease
The strategy, muscle coordination and memory you use to learn and perform dance routines flex your brain as much as your body. Besides improving mental functioning, dancing can prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City examined how the tango or foxtrot improved cognitive activity. They tested subjects aged 75 and older over 21 years. Dancing a few times a week helped decrease the likelihood of dementia occurring by 76 percent. A study of elderly participants published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that frequent dancing increased mental acuity. Dancing and listening to music also help your brain process thoughts better.
Establish a Healthy Routine
Are you ready to embrace dancing as an entertaining way to be more physically active and fit while improving your health? Before leaping into a dancing program, see your doctor for a checkup if you have any medical conditions, are overweight, unfit or over 40 years old.
These precautions can prevent injuries and increase health benefits. Wear comfortable shoes and dress in layers of clothing that you can remove as your body temperature rises. Do warm-up stretches before each dance practice. Drink plenty of water before, during and after dancing. Don’t push yourself too far or too fast, especially if you’re a beginner. Instead of striving for technical perfection, just let loose and have fun. Lose yourself in the music and movements by dancing as fluidly and gracefully as possible. Rest between dances. Stretch and cool down after each dance session.
Dance whenever and wherever you can. Grab a partner and take an amateur dancing class. Join a dance class at a fitness club. Step out at community and senior center dances. Show off on the dance floor at weddings. Or interpret music emotionally and physically at home — with or without a partner. Besides improving your health, dancing frequently throughout your lifespan can enhance your quality of life, boost your confidence and social skills, relieve loneliness, strengthen your heritage, increase your sense of community and broaden your support of the arts.