What Are the Health Benefits of Waltzing?
Times have certainly changed since the 19th century, when critics believed the waltz to be harmful to both mental and physical health. In the 21st century, healthcare practitioners are beginning to take notice of what ballroom enthusiasts have claimed for many years: waltzing is good for your health. You can derive these benefits from both the slower-paced American waltz as well as the fast-paced Viennese waltz.
The continuous movement, weight-transfers and muscle involvement required of the waltz classifies this form of social dance as an aerobic activity. Take for instance the slower waltz style, the American waltz. This dance requires you to move your feet and transfer your weight from foot to foot approximately 90 times per minute. In the Viennese waltz, your feet have to move roughly twice as fast. With all of this movement, your cardiovascular system benefits from waltzing as much as it does from more traditional cardio exercises such as cycling and treadmill use, according to the American Heart Association. For your heart and lungs to benefit from the waltz, dance at least three times a week for a period of at least eight weeks.
Even the slower waltzes burn approximately 50 calories in 15 minutes. This caloric burn can translate into weight loss, or it can help you maintain your current weight. Registered dietitian and dancer Lisa Monti notes that an element of fun in exercise programs, such as social dance, helps people adhere to the program. Continuing to perform an exercise over time can help you control your weight in the long term.
As a weight-bearing activity, waltzing strengthens your bones and muscles. It’s not only your leg muscles that gain strength. As you work to maintain your posture and frame, you strengthen your abdominals as well as your back and shoulder muscles.
Waltzing also promotes the health of your brain. To keep time with the music, you must constantly count 1-2-3 while you are moving your body. In order to lead their partners assertively, men have to think ahead and plan movements in advance. Women must be finely attuned to their partners’ cues. All of this brain work translates into improved cognitive function.
- The Wicked Waltz and Other Scandalous Dances: Outrage at Couple Dancing in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries; Mark Knowles
- Today’s Dietitian: Dancing for the Health of It
- USA Dance: Dances Defined
- American Heart Association Complete Guide to Women’s Heart Health; American Heart Association
- The Seattle Times: 1,2,3…Workout! The Waltz Has Aerobic Benefits
- Fit Not Fat at 40-Plus; Prevention Health
Kat Black is a professional writer currently completing her doctorate in musicology/ She has won several prestigious awards for her research, and has had extensive training in classical music and dance.