Want to Be Healthier? Give Square Dancing a Whirl

Mary Klootwyk

Are you looking for an alternative to going to the gym? Want to make some new friends? Why not give modern square dancing a try? We all know that exercise is good for you. Running, aerobics, bicycling, weight lifting, and sports (pickleball, softball, tennis) all seem to be hard work. Isn’t there a form of exercise that is also fun and doesn’t seem like hard work? Yes, there is! It’s called square dancing. Modern Western square dancing may be just the activity you have been missing.

According to a 1994 Mayo Clinic health letter:

“Dancing can burn as many calories as walking, swimming, or riding a bicycle. During a half-hour of dancing, you can burn between 200 and 400 calories. One factor that determines how many calories you’ll expend is the distance you travel. In one study, researchers attached pedometers to square dancers and found that each person covered five miles in a single evening. Regular exercise can lead to a slower heart rate, lower blood pressure, and improved cholesterol profile. Experts typically recommend 30 to 40 minutes of continuous activity three or four times a week. Dancing may not provide all the conditioning you need, but it can help. The degree of cardiovascular conditioning depends on how vigorously you dance, how long you dance continuously, and how regularly you do it. The side-to-side movements of many dances strengthen your weight-bearing bones (tibia, fibula, and femur) and can help prevent or slow the loss of bone mass (osteoporosis). If you’re recovering from heart or knee surgery, movement may be part of your rehabilitation. Dancing is a positive alternative to aerobic dancing or jogging. And, finally, square dancing contains a social component that solitary fitness endeavors don’t. It gives you an opportunity to develop strong social ties that contribute to self-esteem and a positive outlook.”

Square dancing is for people of all ages who are ready to socially interact. It is said that “Square dancing is friendship set to music.” People of all ages square dance, finding it a fun, social activity where there are no prizes, no points, no winners or losers, just a feeling of self-satisfaction and well-being. It is intended for everyone to have a good time without the stress of competition. It gives you an opportunity to develop strong social ties, which contribute to self-esteem and a positive outlook. Besides the actual square dancing, dancers learn teamwork (yet there are no teams), cooperation, tolerance, and patience. Let’s face it—these are attributes we all could use a little more in our lives.

Though many men avoid dancing in any form, in actuality, square dancing presents very few of the hated elements. Though square dancing is dancing in the sense of partners and music, it’s actually like precision drill stepping performed with partners. Instead of a drill sergeant, there is a “caller” who sings directions set to music. In square dancing, the dancer’s responsibility is to simply follow the “calls” and be where they are supposed to be at the moment they are supposed to be there.

SaddleBrooke Squares Dance Club invites you to attend a free introduction to square dancing on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. in the SaddleBrooke’s MountainView Ballroom. Couples and singles are welcome. Dress is casual, and be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

For more details, check out our website www.saddlebrookesquares.com.