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Magazine

Magazine » November December 2012 Issue » The Power of Ballroom Dance

The Power of Ballroom Dance

Author:
Michael Mecham
Date Published:
November 1, 2012

"Approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese. Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled.

Children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are therefore more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis." - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the United States and other developed countries, but there are things that can be done, namely, DANCE! Dancing has many positive health benefits. Ballroom dancing is considered a "moderate" level activity. There are definitely some dancers who would disagree with that analysis, but even a moderate level activity will increase muscle tone, flexibility, endurance, and organ functionality.

Several studies have additionally suggested that ballroom dancing helps to maintain proper brain function. Some studies even propose that ballroom dance can help deter illness like Alzheimer's and dementia that specifically target a person's mental faculties. It is suggested that this is due in part to memorizing footwork and choreography, and the benefit is increased in ballroom dance because of the interaction with a partner.

If ballroom dance becomes more accessible to children and adolescents throughout the country, the benefits are exhilarating. Ballroom dance has the potential to decrease the number of obese adolescents and youth in the country, increase the quality of life for adults, and perpetuate the joy, love and fulfillment found in mentally stable seniors.

In a recent email, Barbara Wally, the Director of K-12 Student Programs for USA Dance, addressed the increasing rate of childhood obesity and reminded members about a tool that USA Dance has available for members to use in their communities to set up programs with the potential to specifically combat the childhood obesity epidemic.

USA Dance has available a Guide to Starting a School Dance Program (SDP) for use by chapters
and individuals. The SDP does not replace or conflict with current efforts, including arts in residence programs or school curricula. Instead, chapters, educators, parents, and students are encouraged to form dance clubs as an extra-curricular activity to extend and enhance the dance experience for all youth.

Of all possible after school activities, dance is unique in that it offers the opportunity for sport, recreation, aerobic exercise, and artistic expression. It is a gateway to a life-long activity. Recent news indicates that childhood obesity and lack of exercise have reached epidemic proportions, while school budget cuts often target both Physical Education and Arts curricula. Health guidelines call for a minimum of one hour of physical activity per day for children and young adults. SDP offers a way for interested adults to provide part of the solution.