Tips From the Pros: Experience the Health Benefits of Dance

In this edition of Tips From the Pros, we were excited to chat with Bonnie Gray, program director of Dance Alliance of Bradenton, who shared some great information about the many health benefits of dance. Check it out!


GET UP AND DANCE!

You hear the music begin and your feet start to tap along. Then your head starts to bob and you feel your spirits lift. Next thing you know, you are up and dancing! Feeling a little self-conscious? Don’t be – modern research points to dance as one of the best forms of exercise you can do for your mind, body, and soul!

Dance has been a form of self-expression for centuries but is beginning to be recognized as offering many health benefits. The New England Journal of Medicine published a study that looked at the effects of recreational activity on mental acuity. The study examined recreational activities such as solving crossword puzzles and reading, as well as physical activities like biking and golfing. The surprise result – the only physical activity to offer protection against dementia was frequent dancing.

A paper published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine in Science and Sports looked at how various forms of exercise affected elderly Japanese women and their risk of becoming disabled and their ability to complete tasks like dressing, walking, and bathing. During the eight years of the study, researchers found that women who frequently danced had a 73% lower chance of becoming disabled, beating activities such as calisthenics, walking, and yoga.

Margie Krogel, age 87, is a living example of this. She has been dancing since she was four years old and has taught dancing, choreographed community theater productions, and coached physical fitness throughout her life. She still takes tap, jazz, and hula several times a week led by instructor and choreographer Bonnie Gray.

Margie explains that dance keeps her mentally as well as physically fit. “You have to remember the routine, the steps, and your placement in line. You have to be very focused on what you are doing.” She also credits her lifelong dance practice with her physical fitness. “I haven’t had any broken bones,” she said. “I am pretty flexible. When I compare myself to others my age, they can’t keep up as well.”

Dance has other benefits besides cardiovascular health and flexibility. It improves emotional health. It is a social activity that is particularly important for seniors who may tend to become isolated.

Dance is a joyful experience – the music and movement naturally lift the spirits. Dancers are able to overcome the day’s stressors, finding room to breathe and release negative emotions. Exercise is a proven treatment for depression and there is a growing body of evidence that dance is one of the best types of exercise to do.

Besides the more obvious benefits such as cardiovascular health and balance, dance can help identify the subtle changes of physical health problems.

Jeanne Wacker has had a hip and a knee replacement in the last two years and credits dance with helping her find a diagnosis. She said, “I think women tend to overlook things like joint pain, but I began to feel problems with balance and step placement as I was trying to dance.

Jeanne danced up until about a month before each surgery and credits this with helping maintain strength and flexibility for recovery. She completed several months of physical therapy each time, then began dancing again.

I took private lessons from Bonnie Gray for a while, which helped me identify what I could and couldn’t do. I was able to develop my abilities and soon rejoined regular classes. Dancing has enabled me to make a fuller recovery since it works all of the muscles.” Jeanne takes jazz and hula at the new Monarch Studio at 862 62nd Street Circle East in Bradenton.

Monarch Studio is home to the Dance Alliance of Bradenton. The Alliance is made up of a group of dance and fitness educator entrepreneurs who share the space. It has an umbrella website, www.danceallianceofbradenton.com, with individual pages for each member.

Bonnie Gray is the program director of the Alliance. She has been teaching dance in southwest Florida since 1982 and in Bradenton since 2001 and is the company director of That’s Dancing! Dance Education for Adults. 

Gray explained that dance is a great form of exercise for adults. “In addition to the cardiovascular benefits, dance works the whole body, increases flexibility and supports cognitive ability. Best of all, it’s fun. You don’t have to worry about coordination or rhythm, anyone can dance.”

In addition to tap, jazz and hula, class offerings at Monarch Studio include Balletone, Hot Hula Fitness, yoga, and the new Dance Diva hip-hop classes tailored for all levels. For more information, visit the website or email info@danceallianceofbradenton.com.


What great advice! We could all stand to benefit from a bit more dancing in our lives!

For more information about Dance Alliance of Bradenton and the Monarch Studio, visit their website and follow them on Facebook! And, if you get a chance, be sure to tell them you heard about them on Discover Bradenton.

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2 thoughts on “Tips From the Pros: Experience the Health Benefits of Dance

  • jAMES eRLENBAUGH 10 months ago

    I have known Margie Krogel since the early 50’s and her and I USED TO DO EXCIBITIONS IN TANGO AND OTHER DANCES AND i HOPE SHE WILL KEEP ON KEEPING ON.

    • Margie Krogel 10 months ago

      Thanks for the memories James! You were a super great partner, teacher & performer.!!

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