Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The Benefits of Dancing! Part 1

I already dance and run a dance class and social events, so believe it or not I’m already sold on the idea that dance is a great activity with positive real-life consequences. Luckily for me I was already enthusiastic about certain vintage musical genres and finding a place where I would learn to dance to these was a HUGE bonus and one that got me started in my dance hobby.

Dancing has a way of taking your cares away. It doesn’t matter if it’s Swing-dancing, the Lambada, the Macarena or your own crazy moves. Who hasn’t got lost in an upbeat song by jumping around (or even hitting up the ‘air-guitar’)? But not only does it feel good to the soul, dancing also has some major health perks. Research shows dancing can improve your physical and mental health and boost your overall happiness.

“Dancing can give you more than traditional cardio,” Fabio Comana, an exercise physiologist and education team member for the National Academy of Sports Medicine, in an interview with Huffington Post. Comana describes five components of fitness: cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, muscular endurance, body composition and muscular strength. An activity like running on the treadmill may improve cardiovascular endurance and body composition, but an activity like dancing can actually target those two as well as muscular endurance and flexibility. And that’s on top of improved balance, agility, coordination, power, reactivity and speed, he explains. 

But we’re not talking slow dances here — to count as true cardio, Comana suggests aiming for an exertion level somewhere between a 5 and a 7 on a scale where 1 is resting and 10 is the hardest thing you can do. Don’t let that put you off though. Yes there are the more up-tempo dances out there that can get you in this zone like Swing-dancing (Lindy-hop, Jive, Charleston), Salsa and fitness dance like Zumba, but that isn’t to say all dances have benefits.

It’s fun. It really is! “If exercise is not an enjoyable experience, we’re not going to do it,” Comana said. And the bottom line is that dancing is, plain and simple, fun in the way a monotonous treadmill run probably never will be. Plus, busting a move can trigger the release of feel good hormones like serotonin and endorphins. I can vouch for this.. you can burn a heap load of calories and because you’re enjoying the music and feeling the ‘good feelings’ you don’t even realise it’s exercising at all. 

With some dances, especially while you learn a fair amount of thinking is required – so much so it’s hard to think of anything else while dancing. “People think, ‘I’m not exercising, I’m dancing,’” he continued. “But at the end of the day, you’re moving and you’re burning calories. It’s just as good as a cardio class.” I would add to that in light of Comana’s comments on speed and exertion that this statement is at least true of pretty much all dances. 

People are more likely to stick with a fitness routine if it’s fun, and also want to do it for longer. This will push you to move for a longer period of time than typical exercise, purely because it’s a lot of fun and not the dreaded ‘exercise’. Group fitness is seeing a surge in popularity because of Zumba, but like a lot of aerobic dance trends Swing-dancing (Lindy-hop, Jive etc.), Salsa and Ballroom dancing continue to be the most popular and beneficial types of partner dancing. 

Working out in a class like Zumba can help people push fitness difficulty levels level and increase accountability. Dance classes especially those in partner dances are social in themselves, even before the practice or social dance time comes around. A great way of meeting new people and making new friends. Many dances have a great social scene outside of class. Swing-dance for example has weekend camps popping up all over the world as well as social dances to DJ’d music or live bands in most major towns and cities across the UK on a weekly basis.

Most of us (and especially guys) are not always natural dancers. The good news is that there are lots of classes out there running regularly and also offering beginners courses, taster classes and other offerings to get you involved. It’s a lot easier than you think to get started. 

Dancing is a great cardio workout.
Like any good, low-impact cardio workout, dancing can improve cardiovascular health, increase stamina, strengthen bones and muscles and stave off illnesses. But aside from the perks associated any heart-pounding activity, dancing has a cardio edge with unique benefits that actually can’t be achieved by other low-impact exercises.
It can be a social activity.As much as we all love to dance when there’s nobody watching, there’s something irresistible about dancing with other people, whether it’s with a partner or a class-full of fellow booty shakers.
Anyone can dance.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of dance is that it’s inclusive whereas many forms of exercise are not. You don’t have to be great at dancing to enjoy it and reap the numerous health and social benefits ... I think anyone can just start to dance and enjoy the experience. Even better is it is a relatively cheap hobby. Class prices are far from expensive and early investments may just run to a pair of decent dance shoes suitable to the style you are learning.

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