For 20 or 30 minutes more, everyone dances and stretches to a vigorous beat. Students are taught to check their pulse rates at the beginning of the workout, in the middle, and during the cool-down period. That way, they can measure how well their hearts are handling the exercise. Over time, these kinds of workouts help heart muscles to get stronger and make lungs work more efficiently.
You can measure your resting heart rate by lying on the floor. With your first and second fingers, feel for your pulse on your neck under your ear. Count how many times it pulses in 10 seconds.
Multiply that number by six to figure out your pulse rate per minute. Most healthy adults have a resting heart rate of about 72 beats per minute. Yours may be lower than that because younger people usually have a lower rate than adults do. When you take part in active exercise, like dance, that rate will just about double.
Cool-down is every bit as important as warm-up. Music with a slower beat is played for about five minutes so everyone can gradually catch their breath and return to a resting heart rate.
As with any form of exercise, line dancing needs to be practiced consistently and regularly for you to benefit from it. “We recommend a 30- to 60-minute session two to three times a week,” Dr. Ray says. “Most schools make it a part of their overall physical education programs.”
Besides building up your heart and lung fitness, dance can help you be more flexible and coordinated. As you train your muscles to move to the beat, you gain more control of your movements. You are also shaping and toning your body. Some people even lose a few pounds without changing their diets.
Fun at Home, Too
“Maybe one of the best things about line dancing is you don’t have to be in the gym to do it,” Dr. Ray points out. “You can do it at home alone or with friends, once you learn the steps.”
Before you start any exercise program, it’s important to be sure you have enough strength, flexibility, and endurance to try an aerobic workout. In school, most physical education teachers will test you first before you start a dance or aerobics class. Learning the moves from a trained teacher is important so that you get the most out of the program.
From tribal rituals to classical ballet, dance has always been an important part of human culture. With line dancing, everyone can join in the fun while staying fit using all the right moves.