Dance – 1. To move one’s feet or body, or both, rhythmically in a pattern of steps, especially to the accompaniment of music; 2. To leap, skip, etc., as from excitement or emotion; move nimbly or quickly.

Although it’s impossible to know exactly how long dancing has been around, there is some archeological evidence that shows dancing forms as early as 9,000 years ago. Every culture has some form of dancing and it has always served a social function which plays an important role in our overall health and well being.

Dancing is a great way for people of all ages to get and stay in shape. Experts agree that Physical Activity iStock_000013768439Mediumdancing is a true sport and a valid form of exercise. Dancing uses, virtually, all of your body’s muscles: feet, calves, thighs, upper and lower back, abdominals, shoulders, neck and even arms get a workout while dancing.

Dance is a full body workout that burns calories and helps cardiovascular conditioning by lowering your heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol. It can also help strengthen bones and improve posture.

Dancing reduces stress and is just plain fun. Ever watch people on the dance floor? They are always smiling.

Dance has many more benefits including:


Dancing improves balance by strengthening our stabilizer muscles. Dancing also aids in coordination and helps strengthen our reflexes. It is a great way to keep the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system in tip-top shape by improving the connection of our body to our mind.

Better Blood

New research has discovered that dancing aids in lipid control by raising HDL (good cholesterol) and lowering LDL (bad cholesterol). Dancing is also great for people with diabetes because it aids in blood glucose control.

Calorie Burner

Dance burns calories away. It is estimated that dance burns anywhere from 5 to 10 calories per minute, depending on speed and intensity. For example, swing and mambo  burn more calories than a slow waltz.

Dance Style100 pound dancer125 pound dancer150 pound dancer175 pound dancer200 pound dancer
Disco, Ballroom, Square, Latin, Mambo, Salsa264330396462528
Fast, Ballet, Twist288360432504576
Slow, Waltz, Foxtrot144180216252288


Regular dancing is great for improving endurance, especially vigorous dancing, such as line and ballroom dancing. It benefits the heart, cardiovascular system and increases our lung capacity. According to a 1986 University of Freiburg (Germany) study, the muscle exertion and breathing rates of competitors in a two-minute ballroom dance were equal to those of cyclists, swimmers and an Olympic 800 meter runner over the same period of time.

Physical activity  salsa-dancingFlexibility

Dancing promotes muscle flexibility. Most dance classes begin with a warm-up that includes stretching exercises to help achieve full range of motion for all the major muscle groups. The greater the range of motion, the more muscles can flex and extend. Most forms of dance require dancers to perform moves that require bending and stretching, so dancers naturally become more flexible by simply dancing.

Mental Acuity

Dance improves memory by making us recall steps, routines and dance patterns, which makes it a great mental exercise for our brains. Dancing also improves multi-tasking abilities and attention skills. The big benefit is that increasing mental exercise keeps your mind young, quick, alert and open. A study conducted by the American Council on Exercise found that people who engaged in ballroom dancing as little as two times a week were less likely to develop dementia.

Promotes Strong Bones and Lubricated Joints

Dancing can aid in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, which is a major concern for woman, especially during post-menopause when decreasing estrogen levels inhibits calcium from being absorbed into the bones. Dance also keeps joints lubricated, which helps prevent arthritis.


Dancing builds strength by forcing the muscles to resist against a dancer’s own body weight. Many styles of dance, including hip hop, ballroom styles, jazz and ballet require jumping and leaping, which require tremendous strength of the major leg muscles.

Sense of Well-Being

Dancing is a social activity. It gets you up and interacting with others and provides an opportunity to make new friends. Studies have shown that strong social ties and time spent with friends contribute to high self-esteem and a positive outlook.

Dance raises endorphin levels – providing elevated moods. Because physical activity reduces stress and tension, regular dancing gives an overall sense of well-being.

How to get Started Dancing

The great thing about dancing is you can do it anywhere with a little music. Whether you sway slowly or twist and shout you can, actually, start dancing in your living room or kitchen.

There are so many different types of dances and rhythms you are certain find a style you are good at and enjoy. The type of music you like to listen to might be a clue to your choice. The choices range from ethnic to modern (a little Hula or hip hop anyone?) and everything in between.

If you don’t know what kind of dance you might like to learn, the best thing to do is experiment. If you can’t make up your mind between dance styles, try a couple of classes. You’ll never really know until you try, so try and try again.

Classes are everywhere. Check out local dance studios, community centers, church activities, senior citizen groups and even the local Y. There are also many instructional videos that you can buy or rent from your local library.

Dance allows you to continue learning and trying new steps and styles.

People with diabetes need to apply the same self management techniques they would with any physical activity.

Safety Tips for people with diabetes.


Dawn Swidorski, studied classical ballet and modern dance with Gayla Zukevich, Delight Walters, David Howard and Milenko Banovic. She also was fortunate to study with the Ballet Michigan visiting artists program.

She has maintained her love of dance and is a frequent patron of San Francisco Ballet, Alonzo Kings Lines, ODC, and Mark Morris. She is also a founding Board Member of San Francisco based non-profit Dance Out Diabetes, as well as sits on the Board of Directors of Defeat Diabetes Foundation.

http://www.ballroomdancers.com/ – Everything ballroom – they even have great instructional videos

Dance Styles – Wiki has a whole list of styles from all the countries of the world.

Dance Magazine – For serious dancers