As another series of Strictly Come Dancing hits our screens this September, people around the country will be glued to their TVs on Saturday nights. As we marvel at how the celebrities master the dances, lose weight and tone up over the show. But what makes dancing such a great form of exercise?

Lose weight: Dancing is a great cardio workout that’s sure to burn off the calories. How often do we hear how much weight the celebs have lost over the course of their Strictly experience?

More energetic dances, such as Samba, Jive and Charleston obviously burn more calories but even the slower ones can still give you a good workout.

Build muscle: Latin and ballroom dancing work a wide assortment of muscles in your body and help you to build a strong core. It isn’t just the hips, thighs, calves, bum and back that are used, you also build the muscles in your arms, such as biceps and triceps. And keeping a good frame whilst transferring your weight from one side of your body to the other builds and tones the abs, so helping to strengthen the core that the judges are always talking about.

Flexible joints: Dancing strengthens your joints without overworking them. It is a more low impact form of exercise and also not as repetitive as many sports. With dance you tend to mix up the steps and move different parts of your body thereby not putting so much strain on one particular area for too long. As a result you aren’t putting pressure on the same joint or muscle group over and over again.

Fine motor skills, balance & co-ordination: Co-ordination and balance are essential in life to stop us from falling over or bumping into things. Dance is a great way to improve both as well as improve the fine motor skills of our hands and feet.

Improves memory: Dance doesn’t just work your body; it is a great workout for your mind and memory as well. Learning a dance routine and remembering the steps keeps your mind active and sharp. Many studies have shown that dancing regularly can reduce your risk of dementia.

Helps your mood: Dance is a great stress reliever. Firstly, when you’re dancing you haven’t the time to think about anything else, so it gives you a break from your everyday stresses and strains. Secondly, music bypasses our consciousness and tends to relax us without us even being aware. Studies suggest that dancing releases more of the ‘happy’ chemicals are released than other forms of exercise. Also, ballroom and latin dancing is a social activity and making connections with others is always good for our mental wellbeing.

It’s fun: Dancing isn’t just fun to watch, it’s even more fun to take part ourselves. Often the reason people don’t exercise is because it just isn’t fun going to the gym or running along a path on your own. With dancing you are with other people, learning new skills, having fun and getting fit all at the same time. You don’t have to be the next Oti Mabuse or Gorka Marquez and it doesn’t matter if you don’t get the steps right. As long as you’re moving to the music and enjoying yourself, you’re benefiting physically, mentally and emotionally.

So, whether you enjoy a cheeky Cha Cha Cha or a tasty Tango, there are plenty of reasons to keep dancing all year long.

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