PURPOSE: Dance your way to health. Dancing can be aerobic exercise, such as ballroom, Zumba, swing and hip-hop. Intense forms build strength in addition to a strong heart and lungs. But dance can also be quite meditative and provide you with balance, focus and flexibility, such as when you move gently to a slow song. Regardless of purpose, dance in its many forms is one of the most enjoyable ways to train your cardiovascular system and elevate your mood.
GOAL: The delightful health benefits of dance. When you dance, you open yourself up to physical, mental and social benefits. Dance regularly and you will strengthen your cardiovascular system, relieve joint stiffness, increase flexibility and improve balance. Moving to a variety of musical rhythms will help you manage your weight, reduce the stress and tension on the body and build stamina for other activities. When you are coordinating steps to music you are challenging your brain in addition to your heart and muscles. In fact, according to studies, older adults who dance just two times a week can reduce their risk of dementia by 76 percent.
TOOLS: Great music fast and slow; supportive dance shoes; dance videos; if you want to check your exercise intensity, a heart rate monitor can give you accurate feedback. Partners are optional. The beauty of dance is that it requires so little. If you have drumbeats or a song in your heart, you can dance!
DON'T FORGET: Dance is just like any other form of exercise. It should include three phases. Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes at an easy pace and gradually increase the speed and intensity. Your workout (dance portion) can last from 10 to 50 minutes, depending on your specific goals and current fitness level. You should be into your target heart rate zone. Allow 5 to 10 minutes to cool down in which you slowly decrease the workload of the cardiovascular system. Don't forget to stretch to relaxing music.
Light: Beginners. Swaying to easy-paced music.
Moderate: Regular exercisers. Zumba (can be moderate to intense).
Intense: Endurance athletes. Fast-paced ballroom.
Doing less will minimize health benefits.
Beginner: 10 to 30 minutes most days of the week.
Intermediate: 30 to 45 minutes most days of the week.
Advanced: 45 to 60 minutes most days of the week.
Children: 60 minutes each day.