Need a fresh way to boost your fit­ness? Time to hit the dance floor, says Kris Franken

Sunday Mail - Body and Soul - - HEALTH -

Danc­ing is a feel-good way to im­prove your fit­ness, what­ever style you choose. Given the unique com­bi­na­tion of phys­i­cal ex­er­cise, so­cial in­ter­ac­tion and men­tal con­cen­tra­tion – all set to mu­sic – it’s no won­der it has been found to help re­lieve stress, in­crease en­ergy and im­prove strength and mus­cle tone.

Re­search into the ben­e­fits of danc­ing is start­ing to mount up – so choose your favourite style and see the changes for your­self. This sen­sual and fast­mov­ing dance from Buenos Aires, Ar­gentina, is set to en­er­getic, repet­i­tive mu­sic and the male part­ner takes the lead around the floor. “The tango is a low dance – your knees are con­stantly bent so you’re get­ting a great work­out in your legs and core,” says Chris Dempsey, man­ager of Arthur Mur­ray Dance School in Syd­ney. “But the short, stac­cato move­ments that teach con­trol, bal­ance and body aware­ness are unique to tango.” Cana­dian re­searchers stud­ied two el­derly groups: one took weekly Ar­gen­tine tango classes and the other group walked. The tango group showed im­prove­ment in bal­ance, pos­ture and mo­tor co­or­di­na­tion, as well as per­form­ing sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter at multi-task­ing.

And it seems the feel­good fac­tor is gen­uine. A re­cent Aus­tralian Na­tional Univer­sity study re­vealed tango’s ef­fect on mood dis­or­ders. It found re­duced feel­ings of de­pres­sion and in­som­nia that lasted for months af­ter the study had fin­ished. There are enough dif­fer­ent types of ball­room danc­ing to suit ev­ery per­son­al­ity – the waltz is sin­gled out be­low for its own par­tic­u­lar ben­e­fits. “Ball­room gives you a great all-over car­dio work­out, where you use your own body weight, sim­i­lar to what you’d get from an in­ten­sive Pi­lates class,” Dempsey says. “You spend a lot of time bend­ing low and us­ing your legs to push up onto your toes. So it’s an es­pe­cially good work­out for legs and but­tocks.” Dr Joe Vergh­ese, a neu­rol­o­gist at the Al­bert Ein­stein Col­lege of Medicine in New York, con­ducted

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