Get Fit While Dancing Like the Stars
|Subject: Get Fit While Dancing Like the Stars|
|From: “Bottom Line Secrets”|
|Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2007 02:11:34 -0500|
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|November 30, 2007|
Dear Bonnie Vorenberg,
Belly dancing, ballroom and doing the jitterbug are so much fun you may not realize you’re getting a great workout. Dance instructor Bonnie L. Vorenberg, president of Seattle’s ArtAge Publications, tells about research showing a wide variety of health benefits dancers enjoy, including better balance and posture and a stronger heart. Dance classes are available for all ages and abilities. Bonnie shares how to find the one that’s right for you whatever form you’d like to try — waltz to the Watusi, square dancing to salsa.
Cutting anything — including tomatoes for salsa — comes easier with the right knives. Ronda Robotham, assistant professor in the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University, tells what knives every cook needs to keep in kitchen, how to care for them and where best to buy them. Quality knives make unique and much appreciated gifts, too.
All the best,
Dance Your Way to Fun and Health
Bonnie L. Vorenberg
Today, there are more opportunities to dance than ever before, thanks to public organizations and dance schools that are putting a new emphasis on senior participants. That includes opportunities to take up dancing for the first time or brush up on moves that you might have learned back when you “rocked around the clock.”
MORE THAN JUST FUN
When you’re dancing, you have so much fun that you forget about the physical effort you’re putting into it. That effort, however, can have a big payoff. The American Heart Association recently reported a study that showed health benefits — including a stronger heart — from 21 minutes (alternating between slow for five minutes and fast for three) of waltzing three times a week.
The Mayo Clinic Health Letter, in fact, encourages people of all ages to try ballroom dancing as a way to burn calories and improve the cardiovascular system.
A study by California State University shows that ballroom dancers can easily burn 250 calories to 300 calories an hour. And another study at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York concluded that dementia is less likely when people over the age of 75 dance regularly. According to the study, the lower incidence of dementia is associated with executing complex dance steps and moving in rhythm to the music.
Though there may not be any formal studies on the subject, it’s clear that dancing can also improve your balance, and that can be important in preventing falls. When people learn specific dance steps and rhythms, they become more aware of their physical movements and their range of motion as well. That, too, can help prevent accidents.
Most dancers also improve their posture, a move that gives them a younger, more vibrant, appearance.
If all of these benefits aren’t enough to convince you, consider that dancing…
Puts you in touch with music, which has benefits of its own. When in a grouchy mood, for instance, if you hear an upbeat tune, your mood is likely to change.
Is a route to socializing. As we grow older, there’s a tendency to isolate ourselves. Dancing provides an enjoyable way to get together with others — often younger people with whom we might not otherwise socialize.
THE BEAT GOES ON
Most seniors grew up in an era when there was a new dance craze every few months — the Bristol stomp, fly, jerk, locomotion, loop de loop, Madison, mashed potato, pony, shake, stroll, twist and Watusi, just to name a few.
If you were a little old for those steps, you may have grown up in an earlier era of great dances — the fox-trot, Jersey bounce, jitterbug, Lindy and boogie-woogie. Or your parents may have taught you some of their own favorite moves, such as the Charleston or the shimmy.
If you like more traditional dances, there are dozens to choose from — the rumba, slow fox-trot, square dances, tango and waltz. Today, people of all ages are often interested in dances associated with particular cultures — Balinese, German, Irish, Israeli, Latin American, Polish and Russian, for instance.
And even ballet and tap dancing are becoming popular with seniors who are willing to put in the effort to learn.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a partner. Line dancing lets singles move to the music in an ever increasing number of ways. And for women, belly dancing, which is great exercise because it strengthens stomach muscles, is increasingly popular with a growing number of dancers throughout the US — yes, even among seniors.
TAKE THE LEAD
To find inexpensive dance classes, contact your local parks and recreation department, senior center or adult education program. Or consult the Yellow Pages for commercial dance studios, more of which now have classes specifically for people age 50 and older.
Helpful: Find dance studio directories on the Internet at www.centralhome.com/dance-studios.htm. And by using Google or another Web search engine, you can find instructors for specific types of dances.
Smart move: Before you sign up for lessons, ask to observe a class and also talk with some of the students. Consider enrolling only if you like what you see and the students believe they’re getting value for their money.
Courses taught at senior centers, local government facilities or religious organizations are usually inexpensive.
Examples: The Senior Center in West Covina, California, charges $25 for six one-hour tap dance classes. A package of 10 ballet lessons at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Washington, DC, costs $105.
Commercial dance studios charge more. Typical: A Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Manhattan charges $75 for two half-hour introductory lessons plus a practice session. A package of five private follow-up lessons costs $475 for an individual or a couple. Fees are similar at Arthur Murray studios, the other major chain of dance schools.
Though the best way to learn dancing is from an instructor, videos can also be useful, particularly those produced for seniors.
Examples: Nick Felix’s Swing Dancing for Seniors and Paul Merola’s Most Popular Line Dances for Seniors.
These and other dance-instruction videos are usually available at Internet retailers such as www.amazon.com and www.centralhome.com. You can find more videos by keying in senior dance videos into a search engine. Videos typically range in price from $14.95 to $25.95, and most are available in VHS and DVD formats.
There’s a thin line between actual dancing and exercising to music. Straddling this line are Rise and Shine and other videos by dancer Ann Smith. This kind of movement is a fine choice for people who, for whatever reason, don’t actually want to dance. Smith’s videos are available from most Internet retailers.
Dance instructors and schools usually know about places where you can dance, and there are probably more of them than you realize — social organizations, nightclubs, cruise ships, religious groups, community events and senior centers. In addition, ballet and tap dancing schools often hold recitals where students perform.
There may be even more opportunities to dance on stage whenever a local theater group produces a musical with roles for older dancers. The best sources of information are the theater departments at local colleges and universities. My own organization, ArtAge Publications, also provides information about senior theaters throughout the country.
For specific types of dances, it’s often helpful to contact the associations that promote them. The World Swing Dance Council, for instance, provides contact information for nearly two dozen organizations that hold regular swing dances throughout the country.
After a few turns on the dance floor, you’ll get a good idea of whether you want to continue. If you decide that dancing isn’t for you, at least you won’t have spent hundreds of dollars on a treadmill that soon gets stored in a closet. But who knows? There’s a time for every wallflower to bloom.
DANCES YOU LOVE
Organizations that can provide information on instruction, clubs and other opportunities to get out there and dance…
Ballroom. USA Dance, 800-447-9047, http://usabda.org.
Belly dancing. International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance, 818-343-4410, www.bellydance.org.
Bop, jitterbug and shag. American Bop Association, www.americanbopassociation.com.
Folk. Folk Dance Association, www.folkdancing.org.
Hustle. International Hustle Dance Association, www.i-h-d-a.com.
Square dancing. United Square Dancers of America, www.usda.org.
Swing. World Swing Dance Council, www.swingdancecouncil.com.
Tango, rumba, salsa and other Latin dances. Latin Dance, www.latin-dance.com.
Bottom Line/Retirement interviewed Bonnie L. Vorenberg, a former professional dance instructor who is now president of ArtAge Publications, a Portland, Oregon-based supplier of resources for senior theater (800-858-4998, www.seniortheatre.com).