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Dance Fitness: Delightful and in Demand

by Joy Keller on Mar 01, 2007

Have you seen an increase in demand for dance-based group fitness formats? Popular television programs like Dancing With the Stars have piqued the interests of many wanna-be dancers. Polly de Mille, exercise physiologist for the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, thinks she knows why.

“The best exercise program is one that is safe, balanced, promotes fitness and, importantly, one people will do regularly because they enjoy it,” she says. “The social aspects of dance help to make it very attractive for an increasing number of people versus, say, an elliptical training machine. Scientific studies are now also telling us that many things make dancing an excellent fitness regimen with attractive benefits.” Here are some of its many advantages, according to de Mille:

  • Dance movements are multidirectional, which may benefit joint mobility.
  • Dance movements are weight-bearing and varied; this is important for maintaining or improving bone density.
  • Dance requires agility and balance as well as various speeds of movement, skills that are not necessarily emphasized in gym workouts.
  • Dance is mentally stimulating, requiring focus on coordination and on the learning of movement patterns.
  • Dance requires being mentally engaged with physical movement, a constant body-mind connection.
  • Depending on the type, dance can be an excellent cardiovascular workout when done regularly.

Ken Alan, 1989 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and a veteran IDEA presenter who lives in Los Angeles, says that while the surge in dancing’s popularity is welcome, other options may appeal more to some demographics. “Social dance is both a leisure pastime and a recreational activity that can yield a number health benefits,” he says. “With a current resurgence in popularity generated by new dance-themed television shows, social dance is no longer relegated to the older generation of Americans. Yet it’s only enjoyable if you can do it! Dancing requires coordination, rhythm, musicality and dexterity—attributes that don’t come natural to everyone. If you secretly long to be on Dancing With the Stars, go for it. It does your body and soul good. If you cringe at having to prove you have two left feet, no problem. There are lots of other physical activities whose prerequisites are no coordination, no rhythm and no musicality. I’ll dance to that!”

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About the Author

Joy Keller

Joy Keller IDEA Author/Presenter

Joy Keller is executive editor of IDEA Fitness Journal and IDEA Fit Business Success, and is also a certified personal trainer, indoor cycling instructor, yoga teacher (RYT 200) and Reiki Master.