In Part One of this three-part series, Why Dancing is So Good for You, you learned about some of the benefits of dancing, particularly for your brain. In case you missed it, you can read it here: Dancing Helps Reverse Signs of Aging in Your Brain.
In this article, you’ll see why it’s also good for the rest of your body.
Dance floors, even ballroom dance floors, tend to be sweaty places for a reason. All those shimmies and shakes, triple-steps, spins, turns and dips…these movements all burn energy like you wouldn’t believe—and they come with many other surprising health benefits.
Dancing Burns Calories…But Wait, There’s More!
Depending on the dance, you can expend more than 300 calories every half-hour, according to a report from the University of Brighton in the UK. That energy expenditure meets or exceeds the energy you burn during an easy run or swim. Even relatively tame dance styles burn about the same number of calories as cycling.
The reason dancing requires so much energy is because it involves “movement in all directions”, according to Nick Smeeton, co-author of the report and principal lecturer at the University of Brighton.
Running, swimming, jogging, even hiking are all forms of “propulsive” physical activity. You’re constantly moving forward and the body uses that rhythm and momentum to make sure you keep moving.
As Smeeton points out, in dancing there’s a lot more accelerating and decelerating…and changing directions as well as speed. The body simply isn’t able to do that in a very “energy-efficient” way. So it requires more energy to perform the fast paced changes in most dances.
He compares it this way – “If running is like driving on a freeway, dancing is more like motoring through a busy city. All that starting, stopping and changing directions burns a ton of fuel, even though you’re not covering a lot of ground.
Of course, the amount of energy you burn is directly related to the style of dance and how much energy you put into it. A gentle foxtrot or slow, sultry rumba is going to burn up the same amount of calories as an intense hike in the hills.
But burning up calories is only one of the reasons dancing is so good for your body. Activities such as trail hiking and running do a better job of engaging the joints and muscles in the lower body than level-ground, straight-ahead movement.
Similarly, the diversity of movements in dancing, such as up and down, side to side, back and forth…these movements stimulate and train many of the smaller, interior muscles and tendons that help support your body.
Studies Show Proof of Dancing Benefits
Depending on the dance style, dancing can be considered a type of cardio exercise. If you don’t believe that, try 45 minutes of salsa dancing! One study, performed back in 2007, discovered hip-hop dancing ranked right up there with aerobic exercise for improving energy, boosting mood and lowering stress. Study results also showed psychological stress and fatigue were rated lower in those groups. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17879660
A much more recent study done in 2017 explored the effect of dancing on white matter in the brains of senior citizens, aged 60-79. You can think about white matter as the ‘connective tissue’ of the brain and as we grow older, it begins to break down.
This natural break down in white matter causes a decrease in the brain’s processing speed and can cause thinking and memory issues for older adults, according to Agnieszka Burzynska. Ms. Burzynska is an assistant professor of neuroscience at Colorado State University and served as the first author of the 2017 study.
The study specifically focused on the changes in white matter among older men and women who were involved in exercise programs of stretching, walking or dancing. Over the six months of the study, white matter integrity decreased in the walking and stretching groups, but actually increased in the individuals who danced three days a week.
For even more reasons you should include dancing in your life on a regular basis, stay tuned for the third and final article in this series “Why Dancing is So Good for You”.
On Valentine’s Day, you know you need to get something to acknowledge that special someone in your life and let them know how much you love them.
Sure, you could go the traditional route and send flowers or buy candy…but if you want to be a hero (or a “she-ro”) in someone’s life, give them an experience they’ll always remember.
Let’s face it, flowers fade and die and candy disappears fairly quickly and while those are sweet gestures, to be sure, they just don’t take a lot of time, thought or effort.
The gift of ballroom dance lessons, on the other hand, keeps on giving. It’s something that lasts, not only beyond the time the lessons are over, but it’s something the two of you can experience together as a couple.
You’ll be surprised how much that shared experience can do to bring a special closeness in a couple and add an air of romance to the relationship. Age doesn’t matter, neither your age nor the age of the relationship. Every person and every relationship can benefit from ballroom dancing.
For more information about how to get started, visit our page about ballroom dance lessons in Knoxville.
As if we needed another reason to dance…
As you age, there are changes that begin to take place throughout the body, affecting you both physically and mentally. As the brain ages, many people suffer a noticeable decline in cognitive function, while others seem to somehow “stay young”.
Physical activity has been proven to play a part in “slowing down or even counteracting age-related decline in mental and physical capacity”, according to Dr. Kathrin Rehfeld, lead author of a recent study [https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-08-reverse-aging-brain.html] in Magdeburg, Germany at the Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases.
The study was performed over 18 months and demonstrated two forms of physical activity, endurance training and dancing. Both forms of activity showed an increase in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that typically decreases with age. Dancing had the added benefit of also producing noticeable changes in balance.
The fitness group performed repetitive training exercises, like cycling and Nordic walking. The dance group was given new challenges every other week, learning new dances, steps and patterns. It’s believed the constantly changing learning process is what caused noticeable balance changes in the dance group.
It’s already known that dementia patients react strongly while listening to music. The hope remains that by combining the proven benefits of physical activity and music, such as what you experience when you dance, the effects of dementia can be diminished, or maybe even counteracted completely.
The hippocampus area is important because of the key role it plays in learning, memory and keeping your balance. The hippocampus is prone to age-related decline and also greatly affected by Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Rehfeld adds her advice following the outcome of the experiment: “I believe everybody would like to live an independent and healthy life for as long as possible. Physical activity is one of the lifestyle factors that can contribute to this…I think dancing is a powerful tool to set new challenges for body and mind, especially in older age.”
See there? The doctor’s prescription to extend your life and diminish age-related brain decline…DANCE!
So many people say, “I’d like to learn how to ballroom dance, but I’ve got two left feet.” Or, “My partner just can’t dance…no rhythm at all!”
Those aren’t real reasons not to get started with ballroom dancing in Knoxville!
If you’ve ever had the slightest desire to dance at all…I want to strongly encourage you to pursue it! Would it surprise you to know that you already do almost all the ‘steps’ taught in ballroom dancing? If you can walk, you can absolutely learn to dance.
Ballroom dancing is, put simply, merely steps. Some forward steps, some back steps, some side steps. When combined in a series, with music as the background, suddenly you’re dancing.
You didn’t come into this world knowing how to walk, read a book or drive a car. These are all learned skills, and so is ballroom dancing. Granted, for some it may come easier, (it does help if you have an innate sense of rhythm), but every skill needed to become proficient on the dance floor can be acquired through instruction, coupled with practice.
No one is born knowing how to dance. Everyone you see on any dance floor, from the pros on ‘Dancing With the Stars’ to the winners of the World Championship ballroom competitions, to the folks at your local studio….all of these were people with no former knowledge of dancing who became quite talented on the dance floor.
It takes proper instruction and yes, it does require practice. But what skill doesn’t? It takes practice to learn anything new. Knowing how to dance is something that once learned, will bring a lifetime of enjoyment.
Getting started with ballroom dancing in Knoxville couldn’t be easier. Click here to sign up for our Introductory Special for newcomers to our studio and book your first lesson today!
The Intro Package is good for one person or a couple, so you don’t need a partner. But if you have one, it’s a wonderful experience to share!
See you on the dance floor!
If you ask experienced ballroom dancers for their opinion of private lessons, most will agree that private lessons are the best possible way to learn how to properly.
Yes, they’re usually more expensive than group classes, but they provide you with an education you will never get in a group, no matter how many classes you take, making private lessons well worth the extra money.
Who Are Private Lessons For?
A diverse group of people take private lessons for a variety of reasons. Yours may or may not be among them, and that’s okay. Sometimes people take private lessons just because they want to. Other reasons can include:
- The shy beginner, who doesn’t feel comfortable enough to jump into a group class. The shy person will want to take a few private lessons, just so they won’t feel awkward or embarrassed in the group class.
- The advanced dancer, preparing for an upcoming competition or a showcase. Most special dance events involve learning a routine, and it’s through private lessons the routine is choreographed, taught and practiced.
- The wedding couple who wants to dance that all-important first dance as husband and wife with grace and ease. Taking private wedding dance lessons for several weeks prior to the big day allows them to perform that special wedding dance in front of friends and family with confidence.
- The social dancer who wants to learn at a faster pace than what’s usually taught in group classes. Or perhaps they want to improve on their form and technique or learn how to actually perform the dance, rather than just moving through the patterns. This dancer will often take private lessons in addition to group classes, and the instructor can help reinforce what was learned in class.
There are no doubt many other reasons people choose to take private lessons and each one is as valid as the next. Private lessons are really just an investment in your dancing skills, much like going to a personal trainer is an investment in your fitness levels.
Benefits of Private Lessons
The benefits of private lessons is a lengthy list and would likely be somewhat different for each individual. But some of the benefits are universal, and anyone taking private lessons will experience them. Listed below are some of the top benefits private lessons can offer every student.
Personalized and customized for your unique needs
During your private lesson, you have the undivided attention of the instructor. You can ask questions, talk about your dance goals and together the two of you (or the three of you, if you’re taking private lessons with a dance partner) can develop a plan to meet those goals.
Your lessons can adapt and flow as your goals change. You may start out wanting to improve your social dancing skills, but later decide to participate in a showcase or spotlight routine. Your instructor will change your lessons to match whatever goal you’re currently working to achieve.
Accelerated Progress in Your Dance Skills
Private lessons allow your instructor to focus solely on you, and quickly identify any problem areas you may be having. The instructor can then create lessons consisting of specific techniques and instructions to improve those weak areas.
Your entire lesson can be spent correcting a specific turn or perfecting a particular pattern.Every movement can be broken down and analyzed. You’re able to focus on each position of your foot, the hip action, arm placement and so much more. This allows you to move forward and progress much more quickly than you could ever do in a group class.
Convenience and Flexibility
Group classes typically follow a set schedule, most often meeting in the evenings, with different dances taught on different nights at different times. If you want to learn a particular style of dance, but it’s only taught on Wednesday evenings and you work late every Wednesday, you’d never get to take that class.
With private lessons, you can schedule them according to your schedule and your instructor’s availability, which usually includes daytime hours and in some cases, weekend hours as well. Not only can you schedule the time that’s convenient for you, you can also choose which dance you’d like to work on.
You can work on Rumba for a while, change it up and work on Tango for a couple of lessons, and go back to Rumba if you so choose. You have lots of flexibility with private lessons that group classes just can’t give you.
More Detailed Explanation of Dance Steps and Patterns
Sometimes, especially for beginners, group classes can be a bit overwhelming. You may feel like you get a lot of information given to you quickly, in a relatively short period of time. It can be very helpful to supplement your group classes with private lessons.
During a private lesson, your instructor can slow down the explanation and literally walk you through each step of any given pattern, then allow you to dance through it until you’re more comfortable and familiar with it. You’ll feel much more prepared for your next group class
You Don’t Need a Partner, But It’s Okay If You Have One
To be fair, you don’t need a partner for group classes either, but if two of you attend a group class, in most cases you’re required to pay for both to attend. In a private lesson, which typically lasts the same length of time as a group class, usually 45-50 minutes, the fee is the same, even if you want to include a partner.
If you’re ready to step up your dancing progress, or just want to give private lessons a try, contact Dance Tonight and we’ll be happy to match you up with the instructor best suited to help you achieve your ballroom dance goals.
If you hate to exercise, you’ve gotta read this!
Put down that barbell and head to the ballroom.
Ditch the sneakers and put on your best pair of smooth-soled shoes.
Get off that elliptical trainer and get ready to do the salsa, a foxtrot or a waltz.
You’re going dancing.
Regardless of your sex, generation or fitness level, hitting the dance floor is a great way to get moving.
“It’s better than going to the gym or taking up a new sport because it’s easy, it’s simple and it’s fun,” says Dr. Rita Beckford, a family physician and creator of the fitness video Home With Dr. B. She is medical director of the urgent-care center at the Twinsburg (Ohio) Medical Center.
“Research over the past 10 to 15 years has found that exercise only works if it’s done consistently. So if people are happy and they enjoy what they’re doing, they tend to stick with it much longer than just picking up an activity for the benefit of exercise,” she says.
The U. S. Department of Agriculture considers dancing a moderate physical activity, like walking briskly, golfing (walking and carrying clubs) and bicycling faster than 10 mph. The recommendation for general health is at least 30 minutes of this type of activity a day.
Wanda Deagen, who has been teaching ballroom dance since 1984, says even the most basic elements of dance can contribute to physical fitness.
“In ballroom dancing, it’s all about form, so you’re holding your body and your core so that you have your abdominals tucked under and you’re dancing with a nice long back,” Deagen says. “All of the things that are good for your body posture-wise, stretching-wise, those are all the basics in dance.”
Ballroom dancing, like most dance, is usually a low-impact exercise and provides the same kind of benefits as low-impact aerobics, Beckford says. Other disciplines, including hip-hop with its jumps and turns, are high-impact.
“Regardless of the type of dance, you’ll get benefits like an increase in flexibility, strength training and fat burning,” says Beckford, who lost 80 pounds with a program that included an hour of cardio dance five days a week.
“The more intense and high impact, you’re probably going to build more muscles, you’ll burn more calories. But even with low impact dance, the benefits in your bones are still going to be there, the impact on reducing your blood pressure is there.”
Dance is good not only for the body, it’s good for the mind as well.
A study reported in the June 2003 New England Journal of Medicine found that elderly people who engaged in activities such as dancing lowered their risk for dementia.
About half the fitness clubs that are members of the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association offer dance-based classes. One reason for the popularity of these classes is that dance doesn’t feel like work, says Elsa Williams, the group fitness coordinator at the Concord Athletic Club in San Antonio.
“With dancing, the perceived exertion is less than a boot-camp class where you might be working just as hard,” she explains. “It’s pleasurable, and the mood is completely different from a typical fitness class.”
There is also a social component to dancing that can be missing from other activities.
“You’re not only interacting with your partner, but you’re interacting with other dancers,” says Deagen. “Many people after a divorce or the death of a spouse will start dancing.”
And because it can be completely non-competitive, dance can be an enjoyable, healthy and creative outlet for children who aren’t interested in sports.