Dance is a Lifestyle Choice
When someone asks a dancer if they have any hobbies, they often say no. If the person persists and says, “But you dance, right?” the dancer might reply yes, but dance is more than a hobby. It’s a lifestyle choice.
Those who enjoy a dancing lifestyle experience many physical, psychological, and social benefits, whether they are young or old, frail or fit, and healthy or medically impaired:
Many studies have concluded that dancing can improve balance, even in elderly people, and improvements in gait, walking speed, reaction time, and cognitive and fine motor performance have been noted. According to a review published in the European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, dancing may help people struggling with the rigid muscles, slowed movement, and impaired balance characterized by Parkinson’s disease.
Dancing has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety, and stress, and actually boost self-esteem, body image, the ability to cope, and an overall sense of well being, and best of all, the benefits last over time. The authors of a meta-analysis of 27 studies on the effectiveness of dance movement therapy wrote that dancing should be encouraged as part of the treatment plan for people suffering from depression and anxiety.
If dancing is vigorous enough to get the heart rate up, it can be a good form of aerobic exercise. For people with stable chronic heart failure, interval waltzing has been found to improve heart and blood vessel function and overall quality of life as much as a moderate aerobic exercise program did.
On the average, a 150-pound individual burns about 240 calories per hour dancing, 200 calories per hour for slow dances like tango, around 350 calories during faster dances like swing, and more than 500 calories during an hour of step aerobics dancing. One study even showed that dance helped control “emotional eating” in obese women who turn to food as a response to stress.
Find a Style to Suit
There are many different types of ballroom dance; so finding a style that suits you in terms of intensity, difficulty level, music type, and whether or not a partner is involved should not be too difficult:
- If you want an upbeat, calorie-burning style of dance, give tap or swing a try.
- If you want something more reserved, waltz might be an option.
- Foxtrot is a good choice for beginners, while quickstep can be fun for more advanced dancers.
- If you like your dancing spicy, try salsa or mambo.
- Want to dance with passion? Tango may be for you.
- If dancing with out a partner appeals to you, there is line, belly dance, ballet or tap and folk dancing.
Exercise with Benefits
Though other forms of exercise can have many of the same benefits, dancing is more appealing to most people, so they are more likely to stick with it. A study comparing tango dancing to mindfulness meditation found that 97 percent of participants chose to receive a voucher for a tango class rather than one for mindfulness meditation, and although both activities reduced depression, only dancing reduced stress levels. In another study, attendance was higher with waltzing than conventional exercise, possibly because “dance is a form of exercise in which movement, social interaction, and fun are mixed together,” the researchers concluded.
There’s really no downside to incorporating dance into your lifestyle and regular physical activity routine, and don’t overlook the social benefits: dancing is a great way to spend quality time with a partner and/or meet new people.