Authored by Debra Cornelius in Exercise
Published on 09-21-2009
It comes as no surprise that dancing is a great activity for social enjoyment and relaxation. Did you know there are real health benefits as well? Check with most gyms and you will find numerous dance classes. It is easy to understand how zumba classes and other upbeat Latin style dances can help you reap health benefits. These styles of dance get you moving!
Ballet offers the same health benefits as other dance forms and styles. Don’t let the often seen slow graceful movement of ballet fool you. Ballet requires a lot of physical training and strength to make those moves seem so effortless. Ballet is a full body workout. As with many other exercise choices, choosing ballet as your form of consistent exercise can help prevent or lessen the risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and degenerative bone loss.
The first heath benefits that you reap from Ballet include flexibility, range of motion and coordination. As we get older, we often begin decreasing our physical activity. The loss of flexibility and range of motion is often blamed on the aging process. In reality it is brought on by not remaining active.
Ballet can offer a fun form of strength training. No need to lift those heavy weights in a gym. You can even forget about trying to figure out how to use those complicated strength machines. Ballet training uses every muscle in the body to twist, bend and flex. As you build muscle, you also firm, tone up and drop excess fat. Yes, real exercise can be fun!
Many individuals suffer from backache from time to time. What is not commonly understood is that many times an aching back is caused by weak abdominal (core) muscles. Ballet helps strengthen and lengthen the core muscles. Strong core muscles are then able to give much needed support to the spinal column. A taller, leaner posture often results in the unexpected health benefit of marked improvement in the intensity or frequency of back pain.
Along with the physical health benefits of ballet, there are also psychological and emotional benefits. Enjoying ballet lessons offers a chance for social interaction, stress reduction and a boost to over-all self confidence. Many adults report a noticeable decrease in their stress levels as they turn their focus and concentration towards the proper form and movement of each new routine. The challenge involved in learning a new skill, be it a game of chess or a ballet routine, also lowers the risk of senile dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at 11 forms of exercise over a 21 year period. Of the 11 different exercises studied, dancing was the only form of exercise shown to decrease the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in seniors by 63% ! There has been speculation that this could be because dancing engages the mind while exercising the body.
With the increased interest in all forms of dance as a fun way to exercise, more studios, gyms and even community centers are offering ballet classes for all ages and levels of ability. The many health benefits to be enjoyed by learning ballet make spending time finding a class available in your area a small investment that could reap huge rewards. While you’re at it grab a friend and take them with you, all these health benefits are to good not to share.
- New England Journal of Medicine, June 19, 2003; 348(25):2508-16