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You Should be Dancing (It's for Your Health)

By Krista Elliott

My husband doesn't dance. He jokingly says it's because of his religion (which definitely isn't the case). I blame the reserved British half of his gene pool. Despite my cajoling and wheedling, he's only danced with me a handful of times in our 15 years together. 

His attitude toward dancing is a far cry from my grandfather's, who would merrily cut a rug with friends and strangers alike, whether at a wedding, a party, or in an aisle at the supermarket if the Muzak was particularly upbeat. He was healthy and hale into his late 80s, dancing several evenings a week with his buddies at the Legion. 

As it turns out, Papa's dancing might have been the key to his long-lasting vitality. Dancing is one of the best exercises going. 

Shake Your Groove Thing

So why is dancing such great exercise, and why should we all get some booty-shaking goodness into our lives? The reasons are many. 

It's Heart-Healthy - Dancing is fantastic cardiovascular exercise. The constant motion gets your heart rate up and going, giving your lungs and your ticker a great workout. 

It's Good for Your Balance - Because dancing involves movements we don't make while walking, it helps strengthen the muscles we use for balancing ourselves. The quick sideways and backward steps can help improve your reaction time and instinctual response if you do happen to stumble when out and about. 

It's Social - Dancing is a lovely way to bond with friends and loved ones while staying fit. If you join a dance class, you can meet new people and develop friendships. 

It's Culturally Important - Dance can be a wonderful opportunity to experience the music and movement of other cultures. As an example, this video posted by a Bhangra dance group in Nova Scotia went viral, causing a lot of people to want to find out more about Punjabi culture. 

It's Grounding - We spend so much time every day inside of our own heads, but often neglect to connect to our bodies. Dancing, and glorying in the feeling of moving freely, of feeling the beat of the music reverberating through your own body, of sweating and laughing and breathing and focusing on where your limbs are — it all serves to take us outside of our own concerns and just be in the moment, appreciating what our bodies can do. 

It's Fun! - Whether you're sweeping gracefully across a ballroom floor or pogo-ing wildly up and down in a packed bar, dancing is an absolute blast! Exercise can sometimes seem like such a chore, but cranking up the tunes and kicking up your heels can be the breath of fresh air your fitness routine has been begging for. 

So, what's the delay? Get out and dance! And in the meantime, I'm going to show this list to my husband. I'm sure he'll be convinced. And if he's not? Then he can watch the kids while I go out to shake my bon-bon with my girlfriends. Hey ... it's for my health! 

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