Running not your thing?
Step onto the dance floor instead.
From classical ballet to Zumba, dance gets the blood pumping. But the creative outlet also provides mental health benefits in addition to the physical workout, one area dance instructor said.
“People who practice and study dance work on their expression and audiovisual memory,” Julian Damas said.
Mental workouts help stave off memory diseases.
Julian and his wife, Griset, own U Will Dance studio in Plain City. She teaches ballet and flamenco.
The repetition of steps also improves coordination and posture, increasing self-confidence, Julian said.
Dance requires discipline, perseverance, teamwork, he said.
In exchange, it offers a release of adrenaline and bad energy — it’s good for the soul, Griset added.
“We say in Colombia, children who play an instrument will never get a gun in their hands,” Julian said. “Dance is everything music is, but without an instrument. When you are dancing, you are happy.”
Certified Zumba instructor Mariah McAfey agrees that incorporating dance into a workout offers stress relief in addition to the exercise.
Zumba pulls moves from various dance forms as well as kickboxing and jazzercise.
It’s a lifestyle, not just an exercise, McAfey said.
Class begins with a warm-up routine that incorporates stretching. McAfey also uses light weights in her warm-up routine to start her 6 p.m. Wednesday night classes at Xpress Fitness gym in London.
Classes also ends with a cool-down that incorporates stretching.
Zumba is a high-impact cardio workout, but each individual can move at their own level, McAfey explained. It’s a lower-impact cardio option than running, which is harder on the knees and joints, she added.
She has been taking or teaching Zumba classes for nearly a decade.
“It’s such a fun thing to do,” she said. “I love the music.”
McAfey started as “that person in the back of the class,” she recalled. She earned her certification as an instructor in 2012.
She focuses on toning a different part of the body, such as arms or inner thighs, during each class — the variety in the routines keeps it interesting, she said.
“Dance is definitely a great form of exercise,” Madison Health director of therapy Myah Walker said. “It offers tremendous cardiovascular benefits, increasing blood flow and decreasing blood pressure.”
Dance is also a form of endurance training, Walker said.
Remember to consult with a physician prior to starting a new exercise regime, she added.
Reach Audrey Ingram at 740-852-1616, ext. 1615 or on Twitter @Audrey.MP
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