As Strictly Come Dancing hits our screens once again, now is a great time to think about the benefits of dance and how it could be the fitness fix you and your family need to get your health and wellbeing back on track.
Often overlooked as a form of exercise, dancing is actually one of the best ways to get your heart pumping and work your muscles. What’s great about Strictly is that as well as igniting public passion for dance, it also shows that everyone is capable of getting up and having a go – from the aged newsreader who hasn’t exercised in years, to the Paralympian demonstrating that dance is accessible and enjoyable. This is no fad. It’s a fitness option for all.
Dance your way to a whole-body workout
The simple act of getting on your feet and dancing is one of the most effective ways to ensure your family have strong bodies and healthy hearts.
The Government’s guidelines say that to live a healthy life and protect against diseases like cancer and heart disease, kids need to do about an hour of moderate exercise a day, adults should do around 20 minutes. ‘Moderate’ is classed as anything that gets your heart beating faster and makes your breathing harder – so 20 minutes of dancing around as a family in the kitchen should do the trick.
Dancing is also a whole body work out, improving muscle strength and posture.
It’s also particularly good for children as it will help them maintain strong bones, increase their flexibility, improve physical strength and stamina, and develop good coordination.
A class act – explore the options
If you and the kids have a passion for dance, there is sure to be a specific class out there to suit you. All levels and ages will be catered for, it’s just a case of finding your perfect fit.
And with that in mind there are also a whole range of dance styles you can choose from, with ballroom, ballet, belly dancing, salsa, line dancing, street dance and jazz – to name just a few!
Wheelchair and chair dancing is also becoming more popular, so if you or your child has physical limitations this could be a perfect way to get moving. You can find out more about wheelchair dancing by going to https://paradance.org.uk.
Dance for fitness
Dance is also incorporated into many fitness classes, with leisure centres and gyms offering a wide range of alternatives.
Zumba is probably the most well-known and has been around for a while now. It’s basically an aerobics class based around salsa music, but with much more freedom.
Clubbercise is another option. Carefully planned by the instructor, this involves disco lights and dancing with glow sticks to high energy beats, giving it a real disco feel for all the family.
Not all gyms will allow children access, but it’s worth asking if there are any child friendly sessions on their timetable.
Alternatively, you could just keep an eye out for more discos and parties organised in your community. Silent discos – where party-goers wear a headset and can choose their own music – are really gathering momentum and often held in community centres. They are perfect for the whole family because you can each dance to your own music style.
Boogie away stress
With no rules and only the rhythm of the music to pay attention to, dancing is a great way of releasing any stress.
Kids spend their days following instructions and being told what to do, so giving them an hour of cutting loose on the dance floor is likely to do them the world of good. Likewise, mums and dads who have been sat at a desk all day, or who have spent the day taxi-ing kids and doing chores, will also feel more relaxed after cutting the rug for 20 minutes or so.
Perhaps the greatest thing about dancing is that you can literally do it anytime, anywhere – and it’s free.
If you’d rather not attend classes, then why not have a home-based dancing session one night a week? As I mentioned, dancing for 20 minutes – around five songs’ worth – will ensure you get a good workout without having to step out of the front door.
People often dismiss dance as a form of exercise because it’s so much fun! And let’s face it, saying you danced for an hour sounds less impressive than running at 5k park run. But the thing is, it’s just as beneficial – you get the same out of a solid hour’s dancing as you would a park run. And if dancing is something you enjoy more than running it’s also a habit you are also far more likely to stick to.
So, if your family’s fitness could do with a boost, why not take some inspiration and ‘keeeeeep dancing!’.