Recommendations for aerobic exercise are 1 hour moderate exercise on 3 or more occasions a week and joining a dance class 1 or 2 evenings can help with that significantly. The health benefits of increasing exercise are many and well known, but it can also lead to a reduction in stress levels, improved relaxation, stronger bones, (reducing the risk of osteoporosis), better sleep pattern and control of body weight .
So Why Dance?
Dance offers an activity for people who may not consider themselves as ‘sporty’, but by taking up dance you will benefit from improvements in posture, balance and co-ordination. Dance will also tone and strengthen muscles in your legs, buttocks, abdominals, back area and shoulders. Some forms of dance will work more on certain parts of the body than others. All this gives greater spatial awareness, agility and flexibility, which are important at any age, but especially important in later years of life.
Do I have to be fit?
We’ve already said you don’t have to be sporty or super fit, however, common sense dictates that there are some safety issues to bear in mind before taking up dance for the first time. If you are over the age of 40 years, haven’t exercised regularly before, have a medical condition or are overweight, take a quick visit to see your doctor or practice nurse for a check-up. Remember that taking up dancing helps you to become fitter, most forms of dancing will benefit your cardiovascular fitness. Once your stamina increases, you can incorporate more challenging movements. Most modern dance classes will gradually introduce more intensity and difficulty as a student's fitness improves.
Do I need special types of clothing?
Wear comfortable clothing that will allow you to move freely and shoes appropriate to the dance style to protect your feet, ankles and lower back. Shoes that don’t fit properly can cause blisters and/or bruises to toenails. If you have a pre-existing problem or injury to the foot, ankle or lower back, as stated above, consult your doctor/nurse before starting.
Can I be injured?
As with any form of exercise there is always the risk of injury. Some common causes include inexperience, weak muscles and poor technique so it is important to follow instructions from your dance teacher in order to progress at the right pace. Weak muscles are more vulnerable to injury so controlled progressions will improve your fitness and strength. You can be sure your muscles will get a good workout, just be sure to take the classes and the movements seriously so you can progress safely.