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According to researchers social dancing provides the body with many health benefits. It may help reduce stress, increase energy, and improve strength, muscle tone, and co-ordination. Dancing can also burn as many calories as walking or riding a bike. One factor that determines how many calories you will use is the distance you travel while grooving to the beat. In one study, researchers found that square dancers covered five miles in a single evening. That's a lot of do-si-doing!

Other aspects of dance that contribute to your cardiovascular conditioning depend on how long, how often, and how intensely or vigorously you boogie and get down. Experts recognise the benefits of dance in lowering coronary heart disease risk, decreasing blood pressure, and managing weight. Another plus of dancing is that the weight bearing movements of your steps can strengthen the bones of your legs and hips, important for maintaining bone health as you age. As a result, dancing may be used as part of a rehabilitation program, of course with appropriate supervision.

While we may not all be hip-hopping into our nineties, dancing is one activity we can (hopefully) do for the rest of our lives... and the social aspects are all part of its allure. It's a great way to make new friends, be creative and expressive, and just plain old enjoy life. And, the best part of dancing is the fun you can have while you're doing something great for your body because your heart and bones don't know whether you are jogging, in the gym or dancing!

Whatever your preference, there's sure to be a style to suit. Whether it's belly dancing, funk, swing, ballet, jazz, tap, square, hip-hop, the hustle, the tango, or modern dance, classes are popping up all over.

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