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Dance Your Way Fit

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July is Dance Appreciation Month and you know what that means: It’s time to take up a dance class and get that body moving!

Before you start shaking your head and complaining about your two left feet, dancing isn’t just for those who are extraordinarily coordinated. It’s something anyone can do and enjoy. The art of dance helps you to appreciate music and movement, plus it’s a highly effective workout. Let’s take a look at all the different ways getting your groove on benefits you:

Dancing Helps You Lose Weight

Whether you follow along with a DVD or take a class, high energy forms of dance like hip-hop, jazz, and salsa burn around 300 calories an hour, making it a comparable workout to running, jogging, and swimming. When practiced regularly in conjunction with maintaining a healthy diet, you’ll notice that you start to lose weight. Even beginner’s ballet classes get your heart rate up and help you to tone your muscles; a surefire metabolism booster.

Dancing Improves Your Fitness Level

Committing to an exercise routine that includes dancing results in improved fitness overall. This means greater muscle conditioning and tone and a reduced resting heart rate. Practicing precise footwork also improves your balance and coordination. How else do you think dancers look so light on their feet?

Dancing Boosts Your Brain Power

You know dancing offers numerous physical benefits. But did you know it offers up plenty of cognitive benefits as well? According to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine that included 21 senior citizens over the age of 75, and was conducted by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and funded by the National Institute on Aging, dancing frequently was the only physical activity link to increased mental acuity. In fact, participants experienced a 76% reduced risk of dementia. This was the highest risk reduction reported for any activity in the study, both mental and physical.

Since the act of learning new steps, practicing movements in time with the music, and memorizing choreography keeps your hippocampus and cerebral cortex elastic and adaptable, maintaining neural synaptic complexity and fighting off the neural pathway death that leads to dementia.

Dancing is Social

If you opt to take a dance class, you’ll get to shake and shimmy and potentially make new friends. If you take ballroom dancing, you’ll be partnered up with somebody and form a bond as you learn new steps and coordinate your movements.

Dancing = Better Health

When you make dancing your workout of choice, you’ll see widespread health improvements over time. Namely, reduced blood pressure, reduced cholesterol levels, and more energy to get you through the day.

Even though there is some overlap in the benefits between dancing and other forms of exercise, the combination of physical, mental, and social benefits give dance the upper hand.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up for a class or rent a dance video and get to shaking, leaping, and twirling.

About Brenda Stokes Barron

Brenda Stokes Barron
Brenda Stokes Barron is a freelance writer, editor, and SEO specialist from southern California. When she's not hunched over her laptop, she's taking long walks with her daughter in the California sunshine, watching Doctor Who with her husband, and wrangling two very good/bad cats. You can find out more about her atwww.thedigitalinkwell.com, or follow her on Twitter @digitalinkwell
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