5 great reasons to get up and dance

On his 1974 hit single, Leo Sayer declared “of course I can dance”. Many are now discovering that Leo was right! Dancing has always been the centre of social interactions through the ages and now many are re-discovering the physical, mental and emotional benefits of ‘shaking their groove thing’!

From belly dancing to bossa nova, all forms of dancing have enjoyed a renaissance in the last few years, thanks to the barrage of dancing and talent shows on TV.

So, what can you gain from stepping out? Well, here are five reasons that should inspire you to put on your dancing shoes and shake your booty.

1. Get on the dancefloor instead of the treadmill
Let’s face it – how many of us really enjoy exercise when it is tedious, repetitive and solitary? Well it doesn’t have to be! Dancing brings a swag of physical benefits that can be just as good as a vigorous workout at the gym and are a whole lot more fun.

The more vigorous dance styles, such as Latin or jive can provide an intense cardio session that can be equal to a solid run and the poise, stances and precise movements required for ballroom styles are linked to building core strength, flexibility, coordination, balance and posture.

Best of all, however, is the fact that it doesn’t feel like you are exercising. All that muscle toning, fat burning and cardio pumping is happening while you are having a ball.

2. A chance to express yourself
There’s no doubt about it – dance is unique in the way it frees your spirit and makes you feel good about yourself. Maybe it’s the mind-body coordination required, or the ingrained urge to move to music that can revitalise your whole being. Whatever the reason, it is an addictive and invigorating experience that just makes you feel more alive and fulfilled.

It’s great for an emotional uplift and for relieving stress too. And don’t worry about feeling self-conscious – you’ll find any inhibitions are quickly dispelled once you get into the groove with a bunch of motivated people who are enjoying it just as much as you will be.

3. It gets people together
Dance is intrinsically a social activity and is used universally for social gatherings and celebrations in all cultures. Unlike any other type of social gathering, dancing breaks down the barriers and reservations that can sometimes hinder other social situations, because of the common purpose you share in a group.

Whether it is a solo style of dance done in a class situation, or a paired style such as ballroom, dance is a fantastic social lubricant and allows you share something in common with others in a relaxed setting. It’s a great way to get back in harmony with your partner, meet new friends, or share good times with old ones.

4. There’s a style to suit everyone
Single, married, old or young, skinny or stout – it makes no difference. There is a type of dance to suit everyone. Dance can be gentle and graceful, or energetic and vigorous and the wide range of structured and freestyle forms available means that there will be one that matches your physical capability. Here are a few to consider:

Ballroom dancing - tests your coordination and flexibility with a variety of steps, rhythms and speeds, such as waltz, swing, foxtrot, rumba and tango.
Belly dancing – a workout has never been this much fun and the learning the technique is a real thrill.
Jazz - another high-energy style with lots of kicks, leaps and gyrations.
Latin styles - (like salsa or Zumba) have that irresistible, hypnotic rhythm that really gets participants addicted.
Square dancing and line dancing - provide more gentle tempos for those not so nimble.

5. Staying sharp
A New England Journal of Medicine study claims that people who dance regularly have a lower incidence of dementia. Perhaps this is because activities that combine physical and mental aspects are more likely to keep our brains sharper as we get older. The coordination, memory, self-awareness and concentration required for dancing are all factors that keep our minds engaged and exercised.

So what are you waiting for?
There is bound to be a dance class near you. Try local council information sources, community centres, the local gym or private dance studios and get your toes tapping. And for a contagious beat to put you in the mood.

Watch below how this 80-year-old left Britains Got Talent judges in disbelief.


Do you love to dance? What do you do - or are there other ways you keep active?