Dance Benefits

It's all about Balance

Peter Bees' in "the Times" this week (2.4.2019) has some interesting things to say about the importance of balance in preventing falls. "Of all the perils of aging falling is the most prevalent" Bees states and he quotes Jamie McPhee, a professor of musculoskeletal physiology who found that by the age of 75, 40% (yes that's forty per cent !) of our lower spine motor nerones which help us control balance and movement have been lost. Given that "there is an age related decline in muscle strength from about 40...then we should start to think about maintaining our ability to balance as soon as possible".

And the fun part (there is a fun part?) is that much can be done by practising balancing on one leg! Comparing balancing exercises with ballroom dancing showed that dancing alone is not going to cut it. But thankfully in FitSteps we have exercises like the beautiful slow Rumba kick balances, the Argentine kick flicks on a bent supporting leg, hovers in Waltz and many other opportunities to build strength in balancing, just in the course of our normal choreography. My showdance warm ups and routines also include this kind of balancing exercise.

Balance as an indicator of health

UK research has shown that people in their 50s who could stand on one leg for ten seconds with their eyes closed were the most likely to be fit and well in 13 years time. If they managed only two seconds they were three times more likely to die before the age of 66. But the good news is "balance can be restored a little through specific exercises done regularly" Rumba and Argentine Tango here I go...




Dance Helps Counteract Parkinsons 

Practising the new Viennese Waltz (FitSteps Viennese no.5) with its beautiful, sweeping arm movements I was reminded of a class member who told me that it is well known that dancing is beneficial to those suffering from Parkinson Disease. Apparently the big, expansive movements of dancing help to counteract the tendency for sufferers to contract the body and close in physically.

So here's some extracts from a research article by Gammon Earhart - now there's a memorable name! - summarising the main benefits. 

Parkinson disease (PD) is a progressive, neurodegenerative movement disorder that is often accompanied by impaired balance and walking and reduced quality of life. Recent studies indicate that dance may be an effective alternative to traditional exercise for addressing these areas of concern to individuals with PD. 

Dance may address each of the key areas that have been identified as being important for an exercise program designed for individuals with PD.

  • First, dance is an activity performed to music. (external cues such as music are recommended)
  • Dance involves the teaching of specific movement  (see Argentine tango below)
  • Dance involves balance exercises. Throughout dancing one must control balance dynamically. 
  • Dance enhances strength and flexibility.
  • Dance can result in improved cardiovascular functioning , if done with sufficient intensity, dance is an excellent form of aerobic exercise
  • Dance is an enjoyable and socially engaging activity. In fact, dance in a social setting may enhance motivation.

 Dance is also helpful in preventing Parkinson Disease

How does Argentine Tango help?

Argentine Tango specifics - participants can be taught a very specific strategy for walking backward. They are taught to keep the trunk over the supporting foot while reaching backward with the other foot, keeping the toe of that rear foot in contact with the floor as it slides back and shifting weight backward over the rear foot only after it is firmly planted.

And here's a link to the article      

Now that's a lot of good reasons to make dancing a habit! And here's one more - "people who have danced habitually over their lives are known to have better balance and less variable gait than non-dancers"  so really do Keeeep dancing!


Recent scientific research has put dance at the top again and again for its health benefits both physically and mentally. Below is a link to one of the most recent - a clip from Dr Christoffer Rudolpho van Tulleken and presenter Angela Rippons' excellent exploration of "How to Stay Young" on the BBC.

Here are some of my other favourites

Health benefits of dancing  (from

Dancing can be a way to stay fit for people of all ages, shapes and sizes. It has a wide range of physical and mental benefits including:

  • improved condition of your heart and lungs
  • increased muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness
  • increased aerobic fitness
  • improved muscle tone and strength
  • weight management
  • stronger bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis
  • better coordination, agility and flexibility
  • improved balance and spatial awareness
  • increased physical confidence
  • improved mental functioning
  • improved general and psychological wellbeing
  • greater self-confidence and self-esteem
  • better social skills.




Salsa – burns around 200 calories for every 30 minutes

Cha-Cha-Cha – burns around 200 calories for every 30 minutes

Viennese Waltz – burns around 195 calories for every 30 minutes 

Paso Doble – burns around 194 calories every 30 minutes


The Quickstep – burns around 171 calories every 30 minutes

The Jive – burns around 128 calories for every 30 minutes -really?I think we FitSteppers might put this up there with the Salsa!!


Samba – burns around 103 calories for every 30 minutes

Waltz – burns around 103 calories every 30 minutes

Foxtrot – burns around 103 calories every 30 minutes

..and thank you BT(!!) for this -