January 2, 2018. Let’s face it, you’re not gonna keep doing something you don’t like to do. So if you want to make a “get more exercise” resolution that you’ll actually keep, well, here’s a smart bet. Get up and dance. Once a day. You don’t have to be good at it. You just have to do it enthusiastically.
If you’re just not motivated to exercise today, here’s my modest proposal: put on some music that you can’t not dance to. You don’t have to dress up and go to the gym for aerobics class. You can do this right at home. In fact, home might be the only place you’d do this.
This is aerobic: you get your heart rate up. You feel great. You get stronger. And there’s new research to suggest you get a lot more.
This new study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience compared the cognitive benefits of three different types of exercise: brisk walking; stretching & balance training; and, “social” dancing – you know, like the tango, where you have to learn a sequence of steps and not just flail around. All of the subjects (all in their 60s and 70s) showed health & fitness benefits. But only the dancers showed measurable cognitive improvement. And this appears to be related to the need to learn and practice new and somewhat complex choreography.
Which gave me this idea: let’s dance this year. Seriously. One Monday each month, we’ll combine some balance, flexibility and strength exercises – into sequences that will be analogous to social dances. You’ll be able to do these by yourself – but they might be more fun with someone else. Or at least more amusing.
Get Stronger, too
Consider this. “Like muscle, bone is living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger… The best exercise for your bones is the weight-bearing kind, which forces you to work against gravity. Some examples of weight-bearing exercises include weight training, walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, tennis, and dancing.” (National Institutes of Health)
Just to be clear, they’re not talking Fox Trot here. You’re going to sweat. Dress or undress appropriately. For 45 minutes to burn 300 calories (that’s more than you consumed in a huge portion of the Great Supper on Christmas Eve). Flail around, but do it vigorously.
Every Thing Is Everything
Every vital organ benefits from exercise. In The Roadmap to 100: The Breakthrough Science of Living a Long and Healthy Life, Dr. Walter Bortz describes the paticipants in a 4-hour per week exercise program:
“The MRI results were stunning. In parts of each subject’s brain, the blood volume [and its oxygen] had nearly doubled after a mere 12 weeks on the exercise regimen … Mental performance in the human body can be improved by “feeding” the brain extra oxygen … A decrease in the oxygen supply to the brain creates conditions like tiredness, depression, irritability, poor judgment and a variety of health problems. Increasing the oxygen supply to the brain and nervous system can remedy these conditions.” Happy feet!