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
  • 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!”