By Gabe Sanders PhD, NSCA-CSCS
Dancing is a form of physical activity. Some types of dancing can be vigorous exercise because it can significantly elevate your heart rate.
Recently, research has found that engaging in regular dance sessions improved older adults' balance, physical endurance, and quality of life.
While your physical health is expected to improve, you may not expect it to enhance the quality of life you live. Interestingly, the type of dancing assessed in the study was called Irish set dancing which is a type of folk dancing.
Although there are many forms of dancing, especially among different cultures and ethnic groups, if you like to dance, you might want to dance regularly with friends as it can be tremendously valuable to your health.
How can dancing be beneficial for your health?
Dancing can improve your cardiovascular system, bone structure and lastly it is great for your muscles. Some free-style dancing requires sporadic herky-jerky movements that are repetitive and increase your heart rate.
When you dance, you may spend a lot of time with one foot on the ground while the other foot is in the air because you are moving at a faster than normal pace that includes multiple types of functional movements that you do not normally engage in.
Dancing also requires hips, knees and ankles movements which are actually a very athletic form of movement and collectively moving your body differently than normal and at a faster speed can help you strengthen your muscles, improve your cardiovascular system and your balance.
When you dance, you smile, laugh and have fun
The best part of dancing is that you typically dance with a friend or a group of people. Dancing with other people can make your activity seem less intense even though it is likely more vigorous than your typical exercise session.
If you think about it, when you dance, you smile, laugh and have fun. What could be better than genuinely having fun when you exercise? As a result, you will burn calories and have fun doing it.
Combine regular dancing activities with a 2-3 day per week strength training regimen and you will likely feel much more energized in the weeks to come.
*For more examples of other variations/exercises look under Multimedia-VDF Exercise Tips
**Consult with a physician and/or medical healthcare provider before starting any exercise regimen
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Shanahan J, Coman L, Ryan F, Saunders J, et al. To dance or not to dance? A comparison of balance, physical fitness and quality of life in older Irish set dancers and age-matched controls. The Royal Society for Public Health. 2016; 141: 56-62.