Square and Round Dancing has been described as “fitness at its best” in the article “It’s Fun to Get Fit for Under a Fin”, by Corben Geis in the July 2004 issue of American Square Dance.
From helping to control weight gain to decreasing blood pressure to enhancing agility and muscle tone, the list of health benefits that one can gain from square and round dancing is lengthy.
Medical experts from across North America agree. Studies by the American National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute found that dancing lowers coronary heart disease risk, decreases blood pressure and helps in managing weight.
The Mayo Clinic, as far back as 1994, stated that a half-hour of dancing can burn off 200-400 calories, the same as walking, swimming or riding a bicycle. During one study, researchers attached pedometers to square dancers and, in a single evening, each person was found to have covered five miles.
The weight bearing movements of your dance steps can strengthen the bones of your legs and hips to maintain bone health. The side to side movements of many dances strengthens your weight bearing bones (tibia, fibula and femur) and can help prevent or slow loss of bone mass (osteoporosis).
Participating in square and round dancing also helps with cardiovascular conditioning. Because regular exercise can lead to a slower heart rate, lower blood pressure and an improved cholesterol profile, experts recommend 30-40 minutes of activity three or four times per week. Dancing will certainly help with that as cardiovascular health relies on regular, not sporadic exercise.
Square dancing helps to reduce stress, which is the number one health issue related to disease. Dr. Arron Blackburn of the Mayo Clinic once states that “Square Dancing will add ten years to your life,” arguing that “it combines all the positive aspects of intense physical exercise with none of the negative elements.”
Above and beyond exercise, recent studies in both Canada and the U.S. have even give cause to believe that square and round dancing might be able to help at least temporarily relieve the effects of Parkinson’s Disease, a disease that affects more than 100,000 Canadians.
Using dance, those afflicted with Parkinson’s and sometimes isolated by the diseases, are able to put aside their worries about the disease for an hour or so, enjoy increased socialization and lifted spirits.
The New England Journal of Medicine noted that a 21-year study by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of people, 75 years-of-age and older, discovered that the only physical activity that offered protection against dementia was dancing. This resistance to the effects of dementia was a result of having improving neural qualities from dancing.