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Dancing Your Way to Youth

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 22 Jun 2010 | comments*Discuss
Dance Dancing Anti-ageing Benefit

We all know the anti-ageing benefits of regular exercise. Both cardio aerobic and weight-bearing exercise is crucial in helping you stay young and healthy. But the problem for many of us is that boredom with the monotony of exercise as well as lack of motivation and interest in the repetitive routines mean that our good intentions often fall by the wayside and exercise becomes replaced by other more entertaining (although less health-giving) activities.

The answer to this problem? Dancing! Rather than heading to the gym to pound the treadmill or labouring for hours with weights and exercise machines, head to a dance studio and groove to the beat. You will find that not only will you get a great physical workout and experience great mental stimulation, but you will not feel like you are exercising at all but simply having fun, motivating you to come back and do it again.

Types of Dance for Exercise

The great thing about dancing is that there is a huge variety of different styles and speeds, as well as music, which means that there is something for everybody.

Ballroom Dancing

One of the traditional favourites – making a comeback now with the popularity of recent TV dance competitions featuring celebrities – is ballroom dancing. This may look graceful and effortless but is actually a strenuous workout. In addition, it also helps posture, balance and flexibility.

Line Dancing

Another traditional dance form which has been regaining popularity is line dancing. But these days, line dancing has shaken off its dusty country & western image – instead, you’re just as likely to find yourself dancing to swing, Latin, soul, jazz, nightclub or even waltz and foxtrot – all done in a line with no partner required. Line dancing is actually ideal for those with health issues as they get older because it is a low impact activity despite being able to get your heart rate up.


Salsa is probably one of the perennial dancing favourites – and now there are even special variations developed just with fitness in mind, such as “cardio salsa”. This exciting dance workout has become as popular in nightclubs as it is in healthclubs.

Belly Dancing

Most people may think of belly dancing as only for exotic dancers but it is actually ideal for maintaining good balance and posture, developing core strength gently. It also strengthens the back muscles, as well as the muscles of the pelvic floor. Furthermore, it also tones the thighs, hamstrings, abdominal and gluteal muscles. While it can be slow enough for beginners, at speed at advanced levels means that you can get a great aerobic, full-body workout.

For fun, fast dances – especially with partners – you can’t go past the Jive, Swing, Boogie or West Coast Swing, which all help to tone your muscles, improve your cardiovascular health and give all-round anti-ageing benefits.

Regardless of the form of dance you choose, you will find that they are all great at combining fun with a strenuous workout, ensuring that you have the motivation to keep exercising. In addition, dance tends to develop core strength in the core muscles and maintain good posture. Dancing also incorporates load-bearing exercise, which is crucial for maintaining good bone density and preventing the onset of osteoporosis.

Good for the Brain

Furthermore, research reported in the New England Journal of Medicine show that dancing is the only physical activity found to help prevent the development of Alzheimer’s Disease and vascular dementia. While other physical activities like cycling and swimming had health benefits to the body, dancing was the only one which benefited the brain as well. This could be due to the stimulation of having to learn and remember dance steps and choreography, as well as having to coordinate movement throughout the body, providing a very beneficial challenge to the brain. The social aspects of dance, the sense of accomplishment and achievement, and the release of endorphins associated with the activity are also believed to enhance your state of mind – which plays an important role in anti-ageing.

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