Want to get more active but the thought of endless repetitions on the treadmill not sounding appealing? Dancing doesn’t feel like exercise!
When you dance, you don’t focus on the physical aspects, because you’re thinking about performing an action and moving to the music. Dancing can help with weight loss and muscle growth, improved balance, reaction time and motor skills. And studies have shown that ballroom dancing can even help ward off dementia.
In a 21-year study on senior citizens ages 75 and older published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researches looked at physical and cognitive recreational activities and their influence on mental acuity. They then objectively measured mental acuity in aging and monitored rates of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Among all of the activities studied, the physical activity of frequent dancing suggested a 76 percent reduced risk of dementia in older adults. Ballroom dancing, which includes smooth and swing dances as well as Latin dances, was reported to lower one’s risk more than other dances because it requires split-second, rapid-fire decision making skills.
People interested in a more athletic dance may enjoy Zumba. A fitness program that combines Latin music with dance moves, Zumba routines incorporate interval training — alternating fast and slow rhythms — and resistance training.
A person can burn up to 1,000 calories in an hour-long Zumba class depending on how hard they work. The cardiovascular workout Zumba provides can reduce the risk of heart disease, improve blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, improve heart function, reduce the risk of osteoporosis and improve muscle mass.
Nontraditional movements also offer a benefit, since typical women are not moving their hips, shoulders and core on a daily basis.
People who want to let their inner daredevil out while also getting a muscle toning workout can try pole dancing. Pole dancing focuses on upper body and core muscle strength along with cardio benefits. Pole dancing provides improved core strength and posture, muscle toning and improved reaction time and flexibility. Stronger muscles also play an essential role in stabilizing the spine and helping joints to function properly, which can reduce the risk of developing osteoarthritis. There are psychological benefits to pole dancing, too, such as increased happiness and confidence.
For those who have past injuries, a disability, or think they are too out of shape to traditionally dance let alone pole dance, moves can be modified to compensate for a dancer’s weaknesses while looking for ways to improve upon those and turn them into strengths.