Why Dance?

The Strictly Come Dancing Effect

Since the sequined and glittery whirlwind of Strictly Come Dancing burst on to our TV screens in 2004, everyone who is anyone has started to see the benefits of ballroom and Latino-style dancing, which together have shaken their previously uncool images and become, dare we say it, sexy. According to figures from Dance UK, when dance shows are broadcast on television, producers can expect audiences reaching into hundreds of thousands, but with Strictly Come Dancing the figures are stratospheric: it regularly receives viewing figures of 10.5 million and this season it has far outperformed the other Saturday night telly event, the X Factor, much to a certain Mr Cowell's chagrin. However, for the people behind Dance UK this comes as no surprise; it says that dance is the fastest growing art form, with 13% of the population now attending performances. With this in mind, isnít it time you donned your dancing shoes and joined the party?

Dance Your Way Happy

Aside from the big smiles on all of the celebritiesí faces, from Sophie Ellis Bexter to, erm, Ann Widdecombe, one fact that viewers of Strictly Come Dancing surely canít help but notice is that dancing is a great way to get into shape, offering a full cardiovascular work out, which if youíre too busy checking your fancy foot work youíll hardly notice (well, not nearly as much as if you werenít learning a new skill, anyway). Aside from the obvious figure-enhancing benefits, have you also noticed how happy all the contestants look? Well in case you think itís all just for show, or out of their dedication to the showbiz profession, then youíll be pleased to hear that scientists now believe that dancing is a great treatment for depression: a study in the Music and Medicine journal shows that dancing offers significant benefits to people suffering from mood disorders, with notable changes in the levels of stress, anxiety and depression in a test group following just two weeks of dance classes. However, dancing should by no means be the preserve of the young: with 6.5 million people in the UK suffering from depression in the over-65 age category, there are obvious benefits to taking up dancing later in life, from an increase in sex drive, a lift in mood, to more supple muscles. If you're afraid that you may be too old for such vigorous exercise then just remember that NHS advice is that those that are over 65 who are generally fit and have no limitations in mobility should aim for at least two and a half hours of moderate to intensive exercise each week, and what better way to squeeze in this exercise than through dance? After all, John Sergeant certainly seemed to enjoy himself.

Find a Class That Suits You

Dance classes up and down the country have reported a surge in interest since the Strictly effect has taken hold and itís also led to an increase in the number of males taking up the art form. According to an article in The Guardian, dance is now so popular that it is second in popularity only to football in Britainís schools with a rise of 83% of pupils choosing it between 2005 and 2009. If you're ready to join the merry dance wagon then first things first is to find a class near you, offering the style of dancing you want to partake in, be it Salsa, Tango, American Smooth, or the Rumba. However, before you commit to a new dance class make sure its pitched at the right level for you; thereís no point joining up to do a breakdance class if youíve got hip problems, and as Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwoodís recent experiences, show such health issues are not as uncommon as you might think. You'll also need to consider how the class will fit into your lifestyle, whether you'll go to lessons before work, after work or on the weekends, and you might even want to enlist the help of a friend or partner to make the experience more enjoyable. Once youíve found a class, practise, practise and practise, because you never know, maybe one of these days Strictly will be open to the public and you'll have your moment in the glittery spotlight.

This article is part of and should be seen in the frame context of Dancesport UK