I was invited to a dance competition some time ago. Young people from all over Dominica participated .The judges eliminated all but 9 performances. They ranged from hip hop, to ballet, to Latin dance and more. Since I spent 8 years of my young life learning tap and ballet and participating in recitals, I know the time and energy it takes to put on a "really good show". I also am aware of the health benefits of dancing. Here are 10.

  1. Flexibility – as we age, our bodies can become less flexible unless we move them properly. Most dances require bending and stretching.

  2. Strength – the ability of a muscle to exert a force against resistance is the definition of strength. Many dances force muscles to resist against the dancers own body weight. Tap, ballet and jazz require jumping and leaping high into the air so require and build strength.

  3. Endurance -- defined as the ability of a muscle to work hard for increasingly longer periods of time without fatigue. Line and ballroom dancing elevate heart rate and increase stamina hence increasing endurance.

  4. Sense of well being- -dancing is usually a social activity involving fun and pleasure .This releases endorphins "the feel good" chemicals. These in turn also reduce stress and tension.

  5. Increased intelligence – focusing on rhythm, steps and space does help the brain solve problems and do critical thinking.

  6. Youthing- -dancing helps the heart, lungs and cardiovascular systems to function more effectively hence prolonging life.

  7. Strong bones- lubricated joints-- the gravitational force on the body along with lymphatic stimulation benefit bones and joint. This actually prevents and treats osteoporosis.

  8. Balanced cholesterol – the exercise of dancing aids in lipid control and blood sugar regulation.

  9. Better balance – there is a special mind /body connection that contributes to better co-ordination. Dancers are less prone to injury in their daily routine.

  10. No cultural barriers- music is a universal language along with dance.

Recent studies show that dancing reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. It helps with weight control. Ballroom dancing helps ward off dementia. Argentine tap improved mobility of Parkinson's disease. Scottish country dances improve agility and leg strength. What a great way to have fun and be healthy. Which form of dance will you choose to do on a regular basis for better fitness and health?