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Love at first step


The very word makes me happy. Imagine a world filled with color, music, and movement. There is place just like that. It’s the world of dancing. For me, dancing isn’t just a hobby or something to do on the weekend, it’s an integral part of who I am and an essential element of my happiness.

I began ballet dancing as a young child, but as an adult, my life became more about raising children and taking care of our home.

When I returned to the world of dance by joining a ballroom dance class, my weekly lessons became my secret place of bliss. “Twinkles” and “Box Steps” danced in my head while washing dishes or folding clothes. The idea of twirling around the dance floor wearing a flowing, pink chiffon gown became my new obsession.

Dancing helped me rediscover the woman inside who loves to laugh, move to music, and have fun. My new world gave me a personal sense of purpose and accomplishment which manifested into the rest of my life and helped me discover . . . me.

Thankfully, my passion is a healthy one. Participating in physical exercise can help us live an independent and healthy life for as long as possible. While walking, cycling, and swimming can give you a good workout, the benefits of dancing are superior at slowing down the aging process due to the added challenge of learning dance routines.

This wonderful mental exercise keeps our minds quick and alert. It also enhances memory skills and helps to prevent dementia. This elegant workout is the perfect combination of physical activity, social interaction, and mental stimulation.

Dancing is a great calorie-burner. Depending on the style and intensity of your dance, you can burn anywhere from two- to six-hundred calories in just one hour of dancing. Dancing also builds endurance and stamina when practiced regularly.

Osteoporosis and arthritis are two enemies of our bodies. With dance, our joints are kept lubricated and our bones are tasked to stay strong. This low-impact, weight-bearing activity is just what the doctor ordered to strengthen bones and tone muscles.

Dancing reduces stress and depression. Learning new dance steps gives us something to work toward when our lives may feel empty. The challenge of learning correct technique can be energizing and exhilarating. The social aspect of dance gives us a reason to get up, get dressed, and go out. Increased socialization contributes to higher self-esteem and a positive outlook.

Moving to music is a wonderful way to release the endorphins that take our minds off of our problems. The benefits of this exercise can help to clear our heads so that we can see the big picture and make smart choices. The accomplishment of learning a new dance combination leads to increased self-confidence and feelings of self-worth. And if nothing else, just listening to music can lift our spirits.

Thanks to the balance, coordination, flexibility, and good posture inspired by dancing, we are able to lead a healthier life. Coordination and balance contribute to an improved ability to react to sudden movement changes and help us avoid falls.

Flexible muscles lead to increased range of motion and improved circulation. Good posture reduces the stress and strain on our spines and increases our metabolism which helps with weight maintenance.

When you dance, you learn not to take yourself too seriously.

If you dance, you will forget a move, or turn the wrong way, or make any number of mistakes. Learning to brush it off and keep on moving is an important life lesson at any age.

At some point in our lives, most of us have to say good-bye to our hobby of playing football, ice hockey, or soccer. However, you can continue dancing for the rest of your life. This common quote is true: You don’t quit dancing when you get old; you get old when you quit dancing. I celebrated the birthday of a dear friend for many years by performing a solo waltz with him. Our last dance was on his 94th birthday.

Whether you choose line-dancing, hip-hop, salsa, ballet, ballroom, or the country two-step, do something good for yourself and give dancing a whirl. I can’t promise you will love dancing as much as I do. My passion led me to travel around the country to enter dance competitions.

It opened a new world for me in the design and making of dance costumes. You don’t need to go to these lengths to reap the benefits of dance. Dancing at any level will bring joy and health to your life, and you just may discover something new about yourself.

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