By Crystal Hoepner
When did you last dance? Was it rolling your hips to the Macarena at your friend’s wedding? In the kitchen when your favorite tune came on the radio? Or, spelling out the Y-M-C-A with the hometown crowd at the basketball game?
Some people love to dance. Others shy away from it. As country singer Lee Ann Womack’s song says, “…when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.”
The simple act of getting up and dancing is a great way to be physically active. Anyone who has danced before knows it can be a fun cardio exercise, and research also confirms that dance carries tremendous health benefits.
Dance is a “moderate activity,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s physical activity guidelines, and adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity daily.
Proven health benefits of dancing include increased flexibility, stronger bones and muscles, greater endurance and stamina, better posture and balance, less tension and stress, and social connections.
According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, dance routines that require coordinated moves and memorization of specific steps can boost memory function as well, which helps prevent against conditions like dementia.
If you are tired of the treadmill and looking for a fun way to stay fit and healthy, it might be time to kick up your heels. You don’t have to know how to dance, and you don’t have to become a social dancer. You can dance as a form of exercise in the privacy of your own home.
To begin, get moving to the music of your choice. The first time through you might feel a little self-conscious, even if you are all alone at home. Try different songs or repeat the same song and use different moves. Just keep dancing around and once you get to the point where you’re getting your heart rate up, you’ll actually be getting a terrific workout.
So, the next time you’re feeling nervous, looking for a moderately intense cardio workout, or feeling a little blue…I hope you dance!
for flexibility, stronger bones and muscles, greater endurance and stamina, better posture
and balance, less tension and stress, and social connections.
Crystal Hoepner is a health educator with Douglas County Public Health.