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The Best Form Of Exercise

Updated on April 13, 2008

Fun Makes Exercise Best

Many people are seeking the answer to the question, "Which form of exercise is best." They may compare machinery, gyms, exercises, and trainers. But I think the real answer to the question is that the best form of exercise is one that I enjoy and is accessible to me on a regular basis.

It really doesn't matter how effective an exercise is or how well it compares to other exercises. If you aren't going to do it, it is of no value to you.

Sure, you can muster all of your self-discipline to do aerobics, jogging, eliptical workouts and so forth for a while. But if you don't love them, they will trail off and then you will quit altogether.

The other part of the answer is that it has to be something accessible to you. You may love snow skiing, but if you can't get on the slopes three times per week, it's not really the answer to your question. (It could be part of the answer for someone who loves a variety of activities, though).

It may take trying out numerous types of activities before you find the one that you love. Think outside the normal list of exercises taught to you in physical education, offered by the local health club, or advertised on television. Think fun activities that also get your body moving.

My Favorite Exercise

I had struggled for years trying to take care of my body and get plenty of exercise. I constantly felt guilty and like a failure because I either couldn't seem to get started in an exercise program or I slacked off and eventually quit.

Then I finally struck gold. My husband and I took up ballroom dancing and we were hooked. I've never had so much fun in my life!

We had actually tried it years ago, but we didn't make a good connection with the ballroom dancing community. We found dancing fun, but it wasn't accessible to us, or so we thought.

This time, we began with social dancing lessons at the nearby community college. We were introduced to USA Dance and visited local chapters. Not long after that, we joined a local chapter - Carolina Heartland - in Greensboro, NC, approximately 1 1/2 hours from our home.

Although we live in a tiny town not big enough to have a traffic light, we have found that we can dance once, twice, and even three times per weekend every weekend of the month with few exceptions by driving 90 minutes or less.

After we had completed a 10-week course at the community college and had started another, we decided to pick up some non-beginner classes as well. They were a lot more challenging - and fun - though occasionally a little overwhelming.

The real secret to ballroom dancing is to make time for practice and to get over the idea that people are watching you. And the most important thing to realize is that making a mistake is no big deal. I've seen dancers who compete in ballroom dance stop, laugh at their mistake, and start again. I've made many mistakes with my husband and other partners and find that no one is keeping score.

Unlike other exercise I've tried in the past where the minutes seem to flow like molasses, I'm amazed when I find that two or more hours have passed. I never want a dance to be over. And I can't wait to do it again.

Our schedule now includes dance lessons on Wednesday. We usually take two hours' instruction. Sometimes we practice on Thursday nights with some members of our first class. We often dance on Saturday evenings and sometimes on Sunday afternoons. Occasionally we are tempted by a Friday evening dance as well.

We can be found practicing in our offices, in the kitchen, and in the family room. Sometimes you might see a little step or two as I push the shopping cart down the aisle at the grocery store!

Ballroom Dancing - Fun Exercise

Black Tie Gala Held By Carolina Heartland Chapter of USA Dance
Black Tie Gala Held By Carolina Heartland Chapter of USA Dance

Finding Your Best Dance

Ballroom dance is a great option for couples and for single men. There's never a lack of partners available for unattached men both in classes and at dances. For single women, there are options of dancing with the instructor, with single men, and those men with partners who dance around, which is the polite thing to do. Single women will typically not get as many opportunities to dance, but if you are highly interested in ballroom dance, do not let the lack of a partner hold you back.

Ballroom dancing includes the waltz, foxtrot, tango, swing, mambo, samba, Viennese waltz, quickstep, and several other dances. Start with the waltz, foxtrot, and swing first, and add other dances as you continue to learn.

Line dancing is another wonderful form of exercise. The great benefit there is that no partner is required. The patterns are less complicated than in ballroom dance, for the most part, and often you can catch on "on-the-fly" at a dance itself, especially after you have mastered a few basic steps.

If you or your partner is not comfortable with the leading aspect of ballroom dance, consider square dancing, where the calls are made by someone else or the patterns are known beforehand.

If you want a real cardio workout, try clogging. If you aren't already in good physical shape, I think I'd try one of the other dance options first, though!

Physical Benefits of Ballroom Dancing

While I can personallty attest that dancing has had a positive benefit for me including weight loss, increased stamina, and improved posture, you just might be looking for some more objective measures of the benefits. No problem.

According to an NPR report, Italian researchers have concluded that "just 21 minutes of dancing, three times a week, can match the cardiovascular benefits from working out on a treadmill or bicycle." Wow, that's impressive.

Dr. Philip S. Chua, at the CEBU Cardiovascular Center, says that ballroom dancing is better exercise than jogging and even sex (most of the time!) Thirty minutes of nonstop fast dancing can use up to 200 calories. Jogging for 30 minutes burns 294 calories, but the bone and joint damage diminishes the benefits of jogging compared to dancing.

Dancing is a weight-baring activity, which builds bones, according to a WebMD article entitled Dancing Your Way To Better Health.

Ballroom dancing is credited with improving memory and delaying the effects of dementia. The effect on your mental health is extremely positive as you develop your skill and self-esteem, widen your social circle, and enjoy the positive influence of the beautiful, fun, and otherwise delightful dance music.

Injuries are possible and ballroom dancing can be deadly to those with serious health problems. Consult your physician if you have any doubts about your ability to begin an exercise program of any kind.

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    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Kate Swanson 

      10 years ago from Sydney

      Yes, I agree - dancing is by far the best exercise, because you don't even notice you're working out!  I've danced most of my adult life, but only took up ballroom dancing a few years ago, when I met the man who is now my husband.  We only do social dancing, which is not nearly as demanding as the ballet, jazz and flamenco I used to dance - but there is a whole extra dimension to dancing with your Significant Other that makes it really special. 

      Of course, it's a great way to MEET a Significant Other, too!

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