Dance Your Way to Better Health

Dancing in the Street
Dance can be graceful and slow, just swaying to the music. Or dance can be rhythmic and fast like a full body workout. It all depends on the music. Either way, dance is a fun way to exercise and get that body moving!
 

“Dance is the universal language of exercise,” said Trevor Smith, PhD and Regional Manager of the Intermountain LiVe Well Center at Dixie Regional Medical Center. “Whether you are a novice trying to dance at a family reunion, or good enough to dance with the stars – dancing could be a new favorite pastime that brings with it a full dance team of fitness-related benefits.”

Health Benefits of Dancing

Dance is absolutely teaming with health benefits. Dance, like most forms of exercise, has physical, psychological, social advantages. Dance can help people live the healthiest lives possible.

“Do something – anything -- to be active,” said Smith. “Jump on a pogo stick, walk to the mailbox, golf, or dance. Just get your body moving. One of my favorite home videos is of my 92-year-old grandmother dancing at a wedding. She is beaming with happiness and joy because she is totally comfortable moving her body.”

Physical Benefits of Dancing

  • Moving to a groove significantly improves balance and coordination
  • Better balance, especially in older individuals, can lead to gait improvements, better overall motor performance, and lessen the likelihood of falling
  • Increased cardiovascular health and muscle strength
  • Strengthen bones
  • Keeps illnesses on the sideline

“Dance and exercise are also good for cardiovascular health and weight control,” Smith indicated. “Any low-impact movement that gets the heart rate up exercises the heart muscle and burns calories. A 150-pound person will burn approximately 240 calories per hour while dancing. Dance can have the same health benefits as a treadmill, and it’s more fun.”

Dancing is not just for young girls in crop tops or sparkly leotards, it is for everyone.

“There is a silver tsunami coming,” said Smith. “They are what I like to refer to as the ‘wellderly,’ elderly people who want to be as well and healthy as possible. They want to continue to dance well into their 90s. They want to remain physically and mentally active as they age forward.”

Studies have shown that exercise such as dancing sparks improved psychological and mental health. All forms of exercise reduce stress and improve mood. Dance as exercise can be beneficial to chronic conditions such as depression and anxiety.

In order to keep enjoying the benefits of exercise, people need to move to the beat as often as possible. This can be done at home with a dance party DVD or with friends in a social setting. Dancing is always more fun with a friend or loved one and it is a great way to meet new people with similar interests or tastes in music.

“Our goal at the LiVe Well Center,” Smith said, “is to help people get well, stay well, and live well for the rest of their lives. And what better way is there to do that than to celebrate National Dance Day as a healthy community? National Dance Day brings the community together in pursuit of living healthier lives – physically, mentally, and socially – through movement and dance.”