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Westminster At Lake Ridge Blog

WLR Blog
Posted: Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Dancing proves to be good for your heart

Which do you think is better for you: fast walking or dancing?

Though fast walking is certainly good exercise, you might be surprised to learn that dancing may have even greater health benefits for your heart than a brisk stroll. Researchers at Western Sydney University in Australia followed more than 48,000 older people over a 10-year period and found that those who danced were 49 percent less likely to die of heart disease than those who rarely or never danced. The study found that the dancers’ risk from heart disease was 21 percent less than those who regularly walked.

We’re not talking about a slow waltz, although that could be a good warm-up. Moderate-intensity dances like the jitterbug, quick-step or folk dancing are the ones that increase your heart rate. You want to be sweating a bit.

At a dance, you’ll be slowing down and resting between dances. That pattern mimics what’s called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), one of the best ways to train your heart. A HIIT workout alternates between intense bursts of activity and less intense activity. If you did HIIT in a gym, for example, you’d be pedaling a bike, walking or running on a treadmill, using a stair stepper or doing aerobics at the higher end of your heart rate range for one minute, then slowing your pace for 2 minutes, and repeating these intervals for the duration of your workout.

Adding dance can really ramp up the benefits of your regular exercise regimen.

You don’t have to limit dancing to scheduled events, although your retirement community schedules dances several times a year. Put on some music and dance in your living room for 20 or 30 minutes. Just pause between dances for a minute or or so and walk or stretch between songs.

Before you embark on a dance workout, be sure to talk to your doctor about your fitness level, and learn how to monitor your heart rate. You can take your pulse manually or purchase a heart rate monitor that you wear on your wrist or around your chest.

But don’t skip dances where you twirl around the floor with a partner. The researchers found that the social contact of getting together with others at a dance has a positive effect on your mood and lowers stress, which also reduces your risk of heart disease.

So the next time you’re invited to a dance, put on your dancing shoes and enjoy both a good workout and a fun time!

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