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Articles of Interest

Articles of Interest » Dance Information and Etiquette » The "Two Step" Way to Better Health

The "Two Step" Way to Better Health

Author:
Andrew Calori, Jr. (Andrew Calori, Jr., is a ballroom dance instructor and a member and former vice president of USA Dance, North Coast, Ohio Chapter #2063. Mr. Calori is a lifelong caterer as well as a ballroom enthusiast. When he conducted a survey to learn more about the ?inside? benefits of ballroom dancing, he included many professional doctors, nurses, social workers, and nutritionists.)

The "Two Step" Way to Better Health

Ballroom and Latin dancing are changing the way people feel about themselves and how they exercise. With physical, emotional and mental effects, dancing can provide countless benefits to millions of people. This favored recreation is one of the best overall forms of low and high impact aerobic workouts. It is fun, it can be free and, best of all, it is aways done with someone else.

Physical Benefits

Cardiovascular: Ballroom and Latin dancing can raise the heart rate from 80 to 120 beats per minute. This is equivalent to any strength training or aerobic program. Sustained in two-minute bursts over a 45 minute period, dancing helps build the heart's strength and endurance.

Muscle Tone: When danced at an intermediate to advanced level of technique, Ballroom and Latin dancing uses isometric and isotonic resistance, the two key ingredients to building and toning muscle. The blend of the two types of resistance builds beautiful muscle tone without building a lot of muscle mass.

Joints: According to the American Journal of Medicine, the best way to avoid arthritis and to remedy current joint discomfort is to continue to use the joints in a controlled manner. The rise and fall of waltz, among other dances, provides precisely this type of exercise.

Spinal Column: The frame or posture maintained during dancing puts the spine in the correct, natural position, which happens to be better than standing or sitting. Plus, dancing posture puts the organs in alignment, which is thought by many doctors and chiropractors to fight sickness, disease, fatigue and more. Better posture can also result in a much more attractive (and youthful) appearance. Improved posture improves balance as well which helps with more graceful movement.

Respiratory: Strong lungs allow the body to receive plenty of oxygen, which makes the work of the heart easier and, in turn, allows a person to dance (and have fun) longer. To increase lung strength, runners use "wind" bursts, brief sprints to quickly increase heart and respiratory rates, followed by slower running to allow them to come down. This can be similar to dancing at a party, club or ballroom.

Facial Lines: Most ballroom and Latin dancers are so busy smiling all the time that they tend to not develop those nasty worry lines.

Mental & Emotional Benefits

Hug Theory: The dance position used in Ballroom and Latin dancing is very similar to a hug. It is believed, in fact, that this is part of the attraction of Ballroom and Latin dancing. A person who is dancing receives the security of a hug without the need for intimacy — and hugs truly are therapeutic.

Self-esteem: Many people who do Ballroom and Latin dancing have reportedly found deeper self worth, assigning greater value to themselves.

Confidence: Many Ballroom and Latin dancers have experienced the thrill of dancing in front of other people. Overcoming the fear of performing increases confidence in dance, in one's self and in life.

Social Ease: All individuals need to experience comfort and ease in social situations. Weekly exposure to others in dance class leads to more ease with classmates, which can carry over into other social situations. From dance experiences, people can learn proper social etiquette and to engage in conversation, and conquer the fear of asking someone to dance. Social dancing even helps people deal with crowds.

Grace and Poise: Through improved balance and self-esteem, a dancer tends to stand and move in a much more polished and pleasant manner. Clumsiness is replaced with grace and poise, which also increases confidence and social ease.

Psychological Escape: No matter what people do in life, they all need to take a break sometimes. Ballroom and Latin dancing provide a temporary escape from the cares and pressures of the world. For a few hours a week it offers freedom from normal responsibilities and gives enjoyment and invigoration for pursuing life's demands.

Emotional Lifeline: Ballroom and Latin dancing offer a positive and lively activity that can fill emptiness, loneliness or a void that may be felt in life.

Do not worry if you have never tried Ballroom or Latin dancing before. Find a school of dance and try a beginner's class — everyone has to start somewhere. As you make new friends and enjoy the new challenge, you will forget your first class jitters. Even if you think you have two left feet, it may not be long before you are waltzing, fox-trotting or sambaing your way to better health in body, mind and spirit.