DANCE YOUR WAY TO GOOD HEALTH
Need a fresh way to boost your fitness? Time to hit the dance floor, says Kris Franken
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