H is for Health
Stifling an urge to dance is bad for your health; it rusts your spirit and your hips! – Terri Guillemets
In my late 30’s I found myself unattached, nearly 50 pounds over weight (an issue I had battled all my life) and somewhat at my wits end as to what to do with my “spare” time. Hmmm….is time ever really spare? Anyway, along with a change in eating habits and some new rules about how often I was going to get to the gym a week, I decided that I would start dancing. I had always done a bit of what I fondly refer to as ‘Cowboy crank ‘n yank’ (having grown up in Montana where it must be recognized as the State Dance!) but watching the dance floor at my local watering hole, it seemed that there was a whole lot more than crankin’ goin’ on….oh yeah….and there were some really different types of dancin’ happenin’ too!
So, like nearly everything that I get interested in, I jumped in with both cowgirl boots and a new pair of size “I ain’t tellin’ ya how big” Wranglers and started to learn to dance…the hard way….on the bar room floor (and you thought I was going to say ‘on the bar’)! One thing lead to another and I followed line of dance right out of the bar, into group classes, private lessons, competitions, performances, teaching, and who knows where the journey will end. It has been a fun and rewarding journey and I have met some great friends along the way, but the really amazing thing was how fast I lost those 50 pounds, and how I was having so much fun I didn’t even notice that the weight was disappearing until I had to buy smaller Wranglers!! OK…dancing wasn’t the only exercise I was getting but since I was dancing 6 or 7 nights a week for about 3 hours at a time I was probably burning an additional 6000 calories a week….and having FUN, socializing and filling some of that “spare” time!
So here are some statistics on dancing and our health….
- 1 hour of ballroom dancing burns about 300 calories depending on the dancer’s weight and the intensity of the dance. Admittedly that is only about ½ the calories that can be burned running on a treadmill for and hour, but dancing is much more fun than socializing with a treadmill!
- Dancing reduces stress, increases energy, improves strength, and increases all-over muscle tone and coordination (Mayo Clinic research).
- Dancing can lower risk of coronary heart disease, decrease blood pressure and strengthen bones (NHLBI research).
- This is a BIGGIE: A 21-year study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that dancing can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia in the elderly! The physical aspect of dancing increases blood flow to the brain, the social aspect leads to less stress, depression and loneliness and dancing requires memorizing steps and working with a partner…both of which provide mental challenges crucial for brain health and brain body coordination!
So…don’t let your hips rust! DANCE! And remember….you don’t quit dancing because you get old….you get old because you quit dancing!
Dance of the Day: Hustle
Hustle is probably the most famous of the disco dances which were made popular in the 1970’s. Although both line dance and partner dance forms of the dance exist (and both were danced in the movie Saturday Night Fever), it is the partner form of that dance that really interests me. The Hustle has many similarities to swing, it’s timing is essentially double time jitterbug and it is either danced rotationally like jitterbug or 4-count swing, or linearly like West Coast Swing. Additionally, it is often quite quick in tempo like a 4-count swing. Most, if not all jitterbug or 4-count swing patterns can be danced in Hustle with little or no adjustment for the different timing of each dance. Speaking of timing…since partner Hustle has a 3 beat basic (counted ‘&1, 2, 3) it can be danced to waltz music!