Health Benefits of Square Dancing

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Square Dancing may be the Perfect Exercise

Square dancing is walking at a steady pace (about 120 steps per minute) to a called pattern with musical accompaniment. The patterns involve 8 dancers turning and interacting with hands and arms in response to changing choreography that is called using a common vocabulary of action names. Square dancing combines mental concentration with many aspects of good physical exercise including sustained activity, flexibility, balance and coordination.


Square dancers walk between 2 1/2 and 5 miles in a typical evening of dancing burning calories with every step. Dancing continuously for 10 to 15 minutes at a time improves cardiovascular conditioning. Five-minute breaks allow dancers to socialize with others from diverse backgrounds who share a common joy. The energy put into dancing has an effect on heart beat rate, blood pressure, rate of calorie burn, and cholesterol profile.


All this beneficial activity is further enhanced by a variety of popular music in a positive setting, often with your favorite partner. It has been suggested that regular sessions of square dancing can add several years - enjoyable years - to your life.


Live Ten Years Longer

A 1996 study by Dr. Arron Blackburn indicates that Square Dancing will add ten years to your life. He states, "It's clear that square dancing is the perfect exercise. It combines all the positive aspects of intense physical activity with none of the negative elements." Physical examinations of both female and male square dancers indicate that they could expect to live well into their 80's. The square dance movements raise the heart rate like any good aerobic exercise should. All the quick changes of direction loosen and tone up the muscles - but not so severely as to cause injury. In square dancing, when you're not moving, you're clapping hands or tapping feet, which all contribute to long term fitness.


Protect Against Dementia by Square Dancing - From AARP Magazine, August 2004:

Square Dancing is known to protect against dementia, presumably because it requires multiple mental and physical skills.

From a study lead by Joe Verghese, Neurologist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York, June 2003:

Mentally challenging activities can significantly reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Seniors who exercised their minds lowered their risk of developing dementia by as much as 75%. Ways to increase participation in cognitively stimulating activities are widely available and inexpensive and seem to benefit all levels of education and intelligence.


Exercising to Music Doubles the Benefits - From Ohio State University, 2004

To turn a heart-healthy workout into an IQ lift, just add music. A team at Ohio State University found that cardiac patients who exercised to music did twice as well on a test of cognitive ability as they had done after exercising in silence. Exercise alone causes positive changes in the nervous system, and adding music may stimulate different pathways in the brain.


Social Dancing - Excellent Exercise - From January 1994 Mayo Clinic Health Letter

Jazz up your fitness routine with a regular dose of dance. Regular exercise doesn't have to be a chore. Whether you're swirling across the floor to a Strauss waltz or doing Dosados to the commands of a square dance caller, you're getting exercise - and probably having fun too. Dancing pairs you up with more than a partner. It also offers the following significant health benefits:


Calories - Dancing can burn as many calories as walking, swimming or riding a bicycle. During a half hour of sustained dancing you can burn between 200 and 400 calories.


Cardiovascular conditioning - Regular exercise can lead to a slower heart rate, lower blood pressure and an improved cholesterol profile. Experts typically recommend 30 to 40 minutes of continuous activity three to four times a week. Square Dancing twice a week for two hours each time provides a large part of this recommended activity.


Strong bones - The side to side movements of many dances strengthen your weight bearing bones (tibia, fibula and femur) and can help prevent or slow loss of bone mass (osteoporosis).


Rehabilitation - If you're recovering from heart or knee surgery, movement may be part of your rehabilitation. Dancing is a positive alternative to aerobic dance or jogging.


Sociability - Dancing contains a social component that solitary fitness endeavors don't. It gives you an opportunity to develop strong social ties which contribute to self-esteem and a positive outlook.

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