Dancing, a Viable Workout with Numerous Benefits

Various reality television series significantly motivate people to exercise. Fitness trainers as well as models seem to live a healthy life due to the rigorous exercises they undertake. In addition, these shows also teach about fitness and what benefits people get from exercise. According to them, having an exercise routine is essential at any age. Children and adolescents use it to get rid of their excessive energy, while adults benefit by improving their general health. As we age, our bodies go through a number of changes. Metabolism slows down, muscle mass declines, joints lose their flexibility, and overall energy level goes down. This typically leads to weight gain. More and more people are aware of the obesity problem, which has dramatically increased during the last 20 years. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of the U.S. adults (35.7%) fit that category (Facts on overweight and obesity, 2012). Trying to minimize this problem, people join fitness clubs in hopes of developing a workout routine that will help them shed unwanted pounds. The problem with most training routines, however, is that they get repetitious and boring over time. In addition, by doing the same exercises over again, our bodies get accustomed to them and, in turn, burn fewer calories than in the beginning. Therefore, individuals need to choose a routine that is fun but also challenging to the body so that it will keep the motivation going. As evidenced recently by the TV reality show “Dancing with the Stars,” dancing is one of the ways which can brighten a dull and monotonous workout by increasing flexibility, reducing stress and tension, strengthening bones and muscles, and helping achieve weight loss.

“Dancing with the Stars” is a dance competition show airing on ABC. In the program, celebrity contestants such as models, actors, TV personalities, athletes etc. are paired with professional ballroom dancers. Every week, each couple performs a dance and competes against other pairs for judges’ scores and viewers’ votes. The couple receiving the lowest combined score is eliminated from further competition. In the end, only one pair is crowned the champion and receives a Mirror Ball Trophy. To most viewers, the show is just a friendly rivalry, and they tune in simply to be entertained. They can root for their favorite pair, see what style of dancing is performed, what the dancers are wearing, emotions they are expressing, and story they are trying to portray through the dance routine. To the other viewers, especially those who lack motivation or willpower to diet and exercise, “Dancing with the Stars” is more than a form of entertainment. By focusing on several of the past participants’ significant weight loss resulting from the intensive training required for the show, the program serves as a call of action to pop culture to embrace the benefits of regular exercise. Kristie Alley, Kyle Massey, Marie Osmond, Kelly Osbourne, Ricky Lake, to name a few, act as proof that dancing is a viable and fun exercise option that works. Although incorporating dancing into a workout routine may not drastically raise the amount of calories burned, the benefits of integrating it into a regular exercise can lower the risk of heart disease, decrease blood pressure and aid efforts in weight management.

Physical inactivity and obesity are the two main risk factors for adults to fall ill with heart disease (Heart Disease Facts, 2012), which is the primary cause of death among people of most ethnic backgrounds. Over 616,000 people passed away from the disease in 2008 (Heart Disease Facts, 2012). To prevent the fatal disease and keep the healthy heart, doctors suggest cardiovascular exercises. Dancing fits that category perfectly. As a moderate intensity activity, it raises the breathing rate and heart rate. Moving side to side, jumping up and down, lifting legs and arms to the beat of the music works the muscles in legs, arms and abdomen. Whether in the comfort of a living room or with a group at a health club, various stepping and jumping movements decrease the risk of heart attack. 

Dancing as a form of exercise also makes the body more flexible. Usually, dance classes start with gentle warm-up sessions that involve lots of stretch exercises. From the show, it becomes clear that regular participants have become extremely flexible over time, because some of the moves they make do not really look possible for people beyond teenage. According to literature, this is important, because dancing requires movement of all muscles, and the more flexible one is the better the dancing. For one to bend forward, backward and jump in a regular manner, he or she needs to get his or her muscles used to the moves. This is why the trainers insist on long sessions of stretching exercises as it helps improve learners’ dancing. The fact that dancers in this program usually look strong and energetic is also a good motivator. Although not extremely muscular, they are usually able to lift their dancing partners with ease. This looks more attractive than the gymnastics where one has to lift heavy weights to gain same strength. It basically gives an impression that sole dancing has better health outcomes than many other forms of exercises.

Dancing as a social activity has an extra advantage of making dancers more sociable. The fact that one gets a partner, preferably from the opposite sex, significantly contributes to their sense of positivity and high self esteem. Beyond dancing partners, dancing also provides the avenue for eating so that the tension that prevents people from making new friends is relieved. In the end, the dancers not only improve their dancing, but also become more friendly and sociable persons. Indeed, people enjoy watching this program, because it looks more lively and real as compared to other training exercises. It basically focuses on the whole body, mind and social development. This ideally makes it good for persons with stress or any mental challenges that can be alleviated by relaxing the mind. For example, people suffering from terminal illnesses can be encouraged to join dancing groups as it can help them stabilize and accept their new lives. But for most people, they do not have to be stressed or ill to join these health clubs. They stand to gain more in terms of strength and social comfort than mental relief.

In conclusion, being active is a very important part of any health and weight management plan. Although combining dance with a workout is an incredible way to raise a heart rate, the amount of calories burned is not entirely adequate to the amount of sweat the body produces. According to Mayo Clinic, a 160 pound person burns only 219 calories in an hour (Exercise for weight loss: Calories burned in 1 hour, 2011). This means that a 60 minute session will not even eliminate a Snickers bar a person had for snack. Dancing alone then is not a suitable method to consider as an appropriate and sufficient exercise, which will account for a dramatic weight loss. Certainly, it is accurate that the calories that are consumed during such a routine will not be a defining factor in a considerable weight loss.

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