The following was reprinted from January
1994 Mayo Clinic Health Letter, with permission of Mayo Foundation
for Medical Education and Research, Rochester, Minnesota 55905.
Jazz up your fitness routine with a regular dose of dance.
Evelyn resolved that in 1994 she'd exercise regularly. But it's
only the beginning of the New Year and she's already bored with
her new stationary bike. The rowing machine and treadmill at
the YMCA also hold little appeal. When a close friend coaxed
her to go along for an evening of free dance lessons, she realized
exercise doesn't have to be a chore. It's true. Whether you're
swirling across the floor to a Strauss waltz or doing dos to
the commands of a square dance caller, you're getting exercise-and
probably having fun too. Dancing pairs you up with more than
a partner. From burning calories to socializing with friends,
dancing offers these health benefits: Calories - Dancing can
burn as many calories as walking, swimming or riding a bicycle.
During a half-hour of sustained dancing you can burn between
200 and 400 calories. One factor that determines how many calories
you'll expend is distance. In one study, researchers attached
pedometers to square dancers and found each person covered nearly
five miles in a single evening. Cardiovascular conditioning
- Regular exercise can lead to a slower heart rate, lower blood
pressure and an improved cholesterol profile. Experts typically
recommend 30 to 40 minutes of continuous activity three to four
times a week. Dancing may not provide all the conditioning you
need, but it can help. The degree of cardiovascular conditioning
depends on how vigorously you dance, how long you dance continuously
and how regularly you do it. Strong bones - The side to side
movements of many dances strengthen your weight bearing bones
(tibia, fibula and femur) and can help prevent or slow loss
of bone mass (osteoporosis). Rehabilitation - If you're recovering
from heart or knee surgery, movement may be part of your rehabilitation.
Dancing is a positive alternative to aerobic dance or jogging.
Sociability - Dancing contains a social component that solitary
fitness endeavors don't. It gives you an opportunity to develop
strong social ties, which contribute to self-esteem and a positive
outlook. Would you like to dance? Tomorrow night when you consider
settling down for a little television, turn on the music instead.
After a few spins around the living room, you'll have so much
fun you may forget you're exercising.
The following is an excerpt reprinted from Dancin' News of Central
Florida. LIVE TEN YEARS LONGER!
Square dancing will add ten years to your life, a surprising
new study shows. Dr. Aaron Blackburn states, "It's clear
that square dancing is the perfect exercise. It combines all
the positive aspects of intense physical activity with none
of the negative elements." The study was based on their
physic al examinations, which indicated that both female and
male square dancers could expect to live well into their 80s.
The square dance movements raise the heart rate like any good
aerobic should. All the quick changes of direction loosen and
tone up the muscles-but not so severely as to cause injury.
In square dancing, when you're not moving, you're clapping hands
or tapping feet, which all contributes to long term fitness.
American Squaredance, April 1997