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home : health : health June 28, 2016

2/28/2012 1:45:00 PM
Dance your way to fitness
Dancing provides a range of health benefits for people of all ages. photo provided
+ click to enlarge
Dancing provides a range of health benefits for people of all ages. photo provided

By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

Dancing may be the most enjoyable way to get in shape - and it works for any age.

From the wee ones to seniors, dance keeps your body and mind active, builds strength, coordination and self-confidence. And it's fun. What's not to like?

According to Pro Dance Center, regular dance practice can - for children and adults alike - increase flexibility, range of motion, physical strength and stamina. The repetitive movements involved in dance can improve muscle tone, correct poor posture, increase balance and coordination and improve overall cardiovascular health. Dancing is an aerobic form of exercise. For children or adults who are overweight, it can potentially help them to lose weight and improve their eating habits.

Sue Leek, who owns Mackenzie Creek Mercantile and Peggy Sue's Dance Store in Sisters, has become an accomplished, award-winning ballroom dancer - and she didn't get an early start at it.

"It's never too late," she says. "I didn't start dancing seriously till I was 60 years old."

Last fall, the 68-year-old returned from the Caribbean Dancesport Classic in Puerto Rico with dozens of top finishes in a wide range of dances.

And she uses it as means to combat osteoporosis.

"I don't take conventional medicine," she says. "I use exercise as my defense against osteoporosis."

Now Leek is sharing her talents and experience, teaching adult dance classes at Sisters Dance Academy.

For Sisters Dance Academy owner and operator Lonnie Liddell, dance has been a lifelong endeavor that has given many gifts - from physical fitness to mental and emotional strength and confidence.

"I have been dancing since the age of 4, and know that dance greatly improved my own life," she says. "As a very young child I still remember performing the 'Kitty Rock,' swishing my tail back and forth. I remember feeling so proud of myself after the performance, having remembered all the steps and the joy of being applauded.

"As I grew up, dance was a big part of my life. It's influence translated over into so many other areas of my life including being a disciplined student and always getting high grades. Being physically fit helped me feel confident in myself, and dance helped to give me an identity, a feeling of who I was. Through dance I created lasting friendships, friendships I still have today and hold dear to my heart."

Becoming a skilled dancer requires practice, discipline and focus, skills that can translate to other areas of a child's life. According to FamilyTalk Magazine, dance lessons can help to spark creativity in young children and help them to develop an appreciation for the arts. Students who regularly participate in dance lessons typically tend to perform better academically than their nonparticipating peers. FamilyTalk Magazine estimates that students who have a background in dance tend to achieve significantly higher SAT scores and do better in math and science competitions.

Unlike many youth sports and activities, dance is something that you can hold onto for a lifetime - or return to when life permits.

Liddell recalls her own return to her passion.

"Later in life, as I got married and began a family, dance was not something that fit in to raising little ones and being a busy wife and mother," she says. "Soon after moving to Sisters I got my daughter enrolled in a dance class and decided to take a dance class for myself. It brought me to life again - I realized there had been something missing for quite a few years. Dance. I felt the passion of it, the physical benefits, the joy of it infiltrated my soul and I felt alive in a way I hadn't for quite some time."

A lifelong activity that keeps you fit, builds your confidence, offers all kinds of social benefits and is just plain fun: Kinda makes you want to jump up and click your heels - and dance!

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