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As far as total-body workouts go, dancing is a uniquely joyful experience. And after this rollercoaster of a year, it’s one of the best ways to shake off stress and reconnect with your zest for life.

Gizelle Merced, LaBlast-named best dance teacher of the year, is bringing these benefits right to your living room with her First Friday Virtual Line Dance Parties. On the first Friday of each month, join in via Google Meet to end your workweek on a high note. 

You can register online at http://ColumbiaAssociation.org/login or by calling 410-715-3020 ($10 for Revive members, $15 for non-members) An email will be sent 24 hours prior to the workshop with the Google Meet link.

 

The Health Benefits of Dance

The beautiful thing about dancing is that there’s no age limit. Young or old, solo or partnered up, all you have to do is be ready to have a good time.

“You don’t need any dance training or special equipment. Literally, you just need yourself. That’s why line dances are so popular at weddings or celebrations they’re easy and fun for all,” said Merced. “I like to feature a mix of music, from soul to country to Latin to pop, so that there’s something for everyone.” 

While you’re having a blast, you’re also getting a calorie-torching cardio workout. This fun factor allows you to get more out of your workout, including improved balance, agility, energy levels and stress relief. Enhanced coordination is invaluable for all ages, lending itself to injury prevention for everyone from high school athletes to senior citizens. Because it’s a continuous class (which means you continue to move the whole time), your heart, lungs and circulatory system also get a boost.

Plus, because line dances are low-impact and involve a variety of moves, there’s no repetitive wear-and-tear on your joints. Learning new steps lifts brain fog (also known as ‘pandemic brain’) and reverses volume loss in the hippocampus, which controls memory. 

“Right now, people are limited in being able to do the things they love. Dancing is a wonderful option that still allows us to connect, see each other dancing and enjoy energizing music,” said Merced. “Moving enhances your mood and it’s a wonderful escape from all the chaos.”

There’s no shortage of research backing up dancing’s mind- and mood-boosting powers. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that dancing is linked to a lower rate of dementia, and learning new dance steps is also thought to promote the growth of new neurons and activate connections between existing ones. Science also shows that dancers enjoy positive changes in mood, which can be attributed to the release of feel-good endorphins. 

Essentially, dancing allows you to access the same rush as a runner’s high, but in a way that’s joint-friendly and fun.

“Dance is so rejuvenating to the mind, body and spirit,” said Merced. “Not only does it improve so many markers of health, but it improves your wellbeing and overall quality of life.”