Exercise is good for health, but not all of us are fond of running treadmills or going to the gym. If so, we can always try dancing.
Regardless of age, dancing is a good exercise. It is fun, effective and provides many physical and mental benefits.
Generally, there are two types of exercise - aerobic and anaerobic. Both are necessary for cardiovascular health. The moving, jumping or twirling in dancing fulfils the need for the aerobic part, and the balancing or holding of specific positions meets the quota for anaerobic.
Because of this combined benefit, dancing can reduce the risk of heart disease. A June 2016 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine revealed lower mortality from heart disease due to dancing. The study also showed that moderate-intensity dancing could benefit the heart more than regular walks. Twenty minutes of dancing at least 03 times a week will suffice.
Want cholesterol control? Dancing can help! Ballroom dancing is most effective in lowering cholesterol, but any form of dancing will have a positive effect.
Dancing increases flexibility, thus increasing the resistance to injury from falls or sprain. In addition, it increases muscle healing capacity and may alleviate joint pain.
According to US orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Brian Dawson, dancing can engage our muscles differently than traditional exercise. Therefore, it is a great exercise for muscle conditioning, strengthening and toning. Dancing helps to absorb calcium and improves bone health too.
Weight loss by burning calories is also possible. On average, dancing can burn 300-800 calories per hour, depending upon the intensity and style of dance.
For example, Harvard Health Publishing estimated that a fast-paced dance for half an hour could help cut 223 calories in a 70 kg adult. Dr. Nick Smeeton from the University of Brighton, UK, suggests that dancing involves movement in all directions; as such, the energy output is high.
Dancing can relax us too. US board-certified sports medicine and internal medicine specialist Dr. Selina Shah of California said that during exercise, the brain releases hormones called endorphins— which can help lower anxiety and stress. New York-based dance fitness instructor Delia Marmol explained that people start to let loose during their warm-up and can gradually shed the stress of daily life.
What about mental health? Dancing is good for that as well. It requires us to learn and recall steps, routines and patterns, which reinvigorates the memory.
Learning dance choreography can enhance brain functions. For example, a December 2018 study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that the brain's ability to adjust to new, unexpected situations can be improved by dancing.
Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience journal published another study where dancing was shown to increase the 'white matter' integrity of older people.
Dr. Agnieszka Burzynska of Colorado State University explained that this could slightly reduce the thinking and memory problems associated with ageing.
Dancing is, in fact, one of the most accessible exercises we can think of. It can be done anywhere, anytime. So the next time you get a chance, try to shake your body to the beat, or do as your mind tells you!