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Dance your way to good health

Photo: FatCamera/iStockphoto

When people talk about exercise, running or lifting weights at the gym probably come to mind. But if you’re looking for something different or a little more fun, how about dancing?

Dancing has lots of physical and mental health benefits, including stronger muscles, better balance, reduced stress and improved heart health. This is because “dance combines the benefits of aerobic plus weight-bearing exercise,” according to MedlinePlus, an online health information resource published by the National Library of Medicine.

And because dance takes so many forms, you have plenty of types – hip hop, swing, ballet and more – to choose from.

“The workout you get from dance depends on the type of dancing you do and for how long you do it,” MedlinePlus says. “For example, ballroom dancing will give you a moderate workout. This is about the same level of exercise you would get from walking briskly or doing water aerobics. Most types of ballroom dancing burn about 260 calories in an hour.”

More intense types of dance, such as salsa or aerobic dance, offer a workout that can be comparable to jogging or swimming laps, which can burn up to 500 calories an hour.

Get started: You can look for dance classes at your local community centers, health clubs or dance schools – even online. If you haven’t danced for exercise before, look to sign up for a beginner class. “A beginner class will be easier to follow and will reduce your risk for injury,” MedlinePlus says. “As you build your skill and fitness, you can try more advanced classes.”

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