Shall We Dance?
Here are some exercises to improve your moves
Ballroom dancing is more popular than ever. And why not? It is good for the mind, spirit and body. A 2003 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that dancing may help protect against dementia.
And, of course, it burns fat and increases bone density. Even social dancing of moderate intensity burns about 300 calories an hour.
Before You Dance
We recommend warming up prior to hitting the dance floor. Ballroom dance uses muscles in ways that are different from those used when you jog on a treadmill or do exercises in a class. The exercises below should help you limber up and avoid getting sore. Then if you take ballroom dancing lessons, all you need is an open mind and a willingness to have two left feet for a while. Just remember to take it slow and respect your body’s limits.
When signing up for a ballroom dance class, remember:
- Find a program that caters to people of a similar age and ability.
- Join the class with a friend so you have with whom to practice.
- Don’t worry about your current fitness level, shape or size. Dancing is for everyone.
Limbering Up: Rib Isolation
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent and arms out to the side. Keeping yourhips and legs stationary, move your torso to the right. (It’s a good idea to perform this exercise in frontof a mirror.)
- Then move your torso back through the centerand to the left.
- Perform 15 to 20 repetitions in each direction.
Rotating: Shoulder Moves
- Hold your arms to the side at shoulder level with your palms facing the ground.
- Rotate your right palm forward and upward and your left palm down and to the rear, both at the same time. Concentrate on rotating your entire arm from the shoulder joint, not just your forearm and hand.
- Then reverse the sequence so that your left palm rotates forward and up and your right palm rotates down and to the rear.
- Continue until you have performed 15 to 20 rotations in both directions on both sides.
Gliding: Hips & Feet
- Stand with your feet together and hands on your hips. Move your right foot to the right; at the same time, move your hips up and to the left. Then glide your left foot next to your right foot, finishing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Perform the sequence two times to the right.
- Then repeat the sequence two times to the left until you have performed 15 to 20 sets of two on each side.
Jessica Smith has a master’s degree in bioengineering. She holds certifications from the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America and the American College of Sports Medicine.