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Do Ya Feel Like Dancing?

October 12, 2005 By:
Rita Charleston, JE Feature
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Whew! Wonder how many calories were burned off during this segment of Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance”?

Have you tried to diet and failed … over and over and over again?

Have you joined a gym or tried your own exercise routine at home - and once again failed to lose those stubborn pounds mainly because boredom sets in?

Well, why not consider dancing as a more perfect form of exercise and weight control?

Area experts say the relief from boredom may be just a pair of dancing shoes away. "Any kind of exercise is good for you, but I think dancing is a very, very good form of exercise," attests Howard Eisen, M.D., chief cardiologist at Drexel University College of Medicine and Hahnemann Hospital.

"Dancing provides a high-intensity aerobic workout if it's done right. Moreover, people need to do some kind of exercise they'll stick with and enjoy. You can't force somebody to jog if they really don't like to jog. But if people enjoy dancing, then by all means they should dance," he says.

Moreover, he adds, dancing increases your heart rate because it gets you moving around a lot. "It also gets you to socialize, which is always a good thing from the standpoint of the heart. Being isolated from people isn't good for anyone."

It's no secret that moderate exercise and sensible eating habits are the key to remaining fit and trim. However, to most of us, the thought of spending a half-hour on the treadmill or jogging around the block makes us just want to go back to bed and pull the covers over our head.

Dancing may be an answer: It's a mild aerobic workout, it's entertaining, and it's a good way to relieve the stress of the everyday world.

Strictly Ballroom?
Take ballroom dancing, for instance. In fact, ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" - and its subsequent "dance-off" - were TV sensations this past summer, as was "So You Think You Can Dance," a Fox series, and "Mad Hot Ballroom," a documentary on kids taking ballroom-dancing lessons. "Ballroom dance is a rigorous activity that uses the larger muscle groups, and is usually done over the course of an hour or an entire evening," explains George B.Theiss, president of Arthur Murray International.

"It's most frequently compared to ice-dancing, and no one would question the athletic ability of an ice-skater. Since we work without gliding across ice, it's possible that a competitive ballroom dancer (or even dancers in general) might even be in better shape than a figure skater."

Sharon Thomas, a teacher at a local Arthur Murray studio for the past 16 years, couldn't agree more: "Not only is dancing a terrific form of exercise, but we have ladies here who have lost 30 pounds since they started dancing. And ever since the International Olympic Committee gave ballroom dancing provisional recognition, it has been getting a lot of attention as a true athletic activity."

Consider these facts, say the experts:

• Dance contributes to good posture and body alignment.

• Dance increases your flexibility and stamina.

• Dance aids in better coordination and increases tone in the legs.

• As an aerobic exercise, dance benefits your cardiovascular system as you swing and sway from hips to shoulders.

"Many people turn to dancing when more traditional exercise programs fall by the wayside. This makes it accessible to people of any age or fitness level," says Theiss. "With less emphasis on 'going for the burn' and more on having fun, dancing as a form of exercise offers many wonderful benefits."

Eisen recalls that when he was in medical school during the disco craze, his classmates who were good dancers had the best endurance and were in great shape.

"I've tried several times to learn ballroom dancing," he says, "but I just don't seem to have the coordination. Still, I haven't given up yet!"

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