Dance- It’s good for you!

By: Dr. Laura Wenger, PT, OCS

Aerobic exercise, one of the mainstays of living a healthy life, comes in many shapes and sizes. In Durango especially, many people think about aerobic exercise in the context of being outdoors in the beautiful mountains that surround us with activities such as jogging, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, road biking, and mountain biking- all activities that I’ve discussed benefits of in previous blog posts. However, for some folks, the preferred method of getting their heart rate up and sweat coming down can happen indoors with such activities as dance!

Recently, I’ve taken up dancing as a weekly form of cardiovascular exercise (which, by the way, has been a blast!) and I found myself asking the question about how dance compares to other forms of exercise in terms of the cardiovascular benefits that it offers. Despite being fun and something that I enjoy doing, I wanted to see if I could still get all of the benefits of participating in regular aerobic exercise- namely reducing physical health risks that are often associated with a sedentary or inactive lifestyle- while dancing along to choreographed music with a group of lively ladies every Saturday morning.

Our tech, Nicole, during a dance performance

It turns out that researchers have asked the same question, seeing as dance is commonly rated as a highly enjoyable, versatile, and adaptable form of exercise.(1) Lucky for me, a recent systematic review that looked at 23 different studies found that dance of any genre is at least equally if not sometimes more effective than other types of structured exercise for improving health measures such as body composition, blood testing such as for cholesterol levels, and functional measures such as flexibility, balance, and strength.(1) The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 to 250 minutes per week of aerobic exercise, but it is nice to know that you can achieve that recommended amount of time through many means and still have a benefit in health and wellness.(1) Most importantly, I get to have fun while doing it! We hope that everyone in our community can find enjoyable ways to get in their aerobic exercise on a weekly basis in order to improve their physical and mental function.

1. Yan AF, Cobley S, et al. The Effectiveness of Dance Interventions on Physical Health Outcomes Compared to Other Forms of Physical Activity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 2017. Https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-017-0853-5.