NEW YORK—September 12, 2006
Regardless of gender, generation or income group, more and more people are going to the dance floor for a workout versus a gym, and an exercise physiologist at New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery - a leading center for sports medicine - thinks she knows why.
“The best exercise program is one that is safe, balanced, promotes fitness and, importantly, one that people will do regularly because they enjoy it,” according to Polly de Mille, exercise physiologist at the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at Hospital for Special Surgery.
“The social aspects of dance help to make it very attractive for an increasing number of people versus, say, an elliptical training machine. Scientific studies are now also telling us that many things make dancing an excellent fitness regimen with attractive benefits,” de Mille said.
Of course, balanced, targeted gym workouts can provide excellent fitness benefits as well, but for some people, the “fun factor” is missing at the gym.
“Those working out in gyms are often plugged into their iPods or their reading material, following their own regimen. Those dancing, however, are often moving in unison, possibly facing one another or touching, and having a communal experience. Connection and cooperation with others is integral to the experience,” she said.
Dance is also very good for balance and posture, according to Beth Shubin Stein, M.D., an assistant attending orthopaedic surgeon in the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at Hospital for Special Surgery who is trained in sports medicine and shoulder surgery.
“Dance is also a great aerobic workout, and it tones many different muscle groups,” Dr. Shubin Stein said.
Popular TV programs like ABC-TV’s “Dancing with the Stars,” which returns for its third season September 12, underscore the romance and passion sometimes involved in dance. De Mille cautions, however, that people need to know their limits and pace themselves before considering some of the acrobatic moves seen on TV.
While dance may not be for everyone (de Mille personally finds regular runs in Central Park to be very calming) and a few precautions need to be kept in mind, she says studies clearly show that the health benefits of dance compared to gym workouts are impressive. Specifically:
De Mille advises people considering dance as fitness therapy to keep three key points in mind:
“From a mind-body perspective, anything you do successfully on the physical end will positively affect your mental and emotional states. Dancers have excellent posture, and just standing a little straighter can have a surprising transfer of power to your next board meeting or challenging conversation,” commented Jenny Susser, Ph.D., a sports psychologist at the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at HSS.
The first of its kind in the United States, the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at HSS is a nationally recognized health resource for active women of all ages and abilities, from eager novices to professional athletes.
Read an ABC News piece on dancing for fitness.
About HSS | Hospital for Special Surgery
HSS is the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. At its core is Hospital for Special Surgery, nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics (for the eighth consecutive year) and No. 3 in rheumatology by U.S. News & World Report (2017-2018). Founded in 1863, the Hospital has one of the lowest infection rates in the country and was the first in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center four consecutive times. The global standard total knee replacement was developed at HSS in 1969. An affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College, HSS has a main campus in New York City and facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut and in the Long Island and Westchester County regions of New York State. In 2017 HSS provided care to 135,000 patients and performed more than 32,000 surgical procedures. People from all 50 U.S. states and 80 countries travelled to receive care at HSS. In addition to patient care, HSS leads the field in research, innovation and education. The HSS Research Institute comprises 20 laboratories and 300 staff members focused on leading the advancement of musculoskeletal health through prevention of degeneration, tissue repair and tissue regeneration. The HSS Global Innovation Institute was formed in 2016 to realize the potential of new drugs, therapeutics and devices. The culture of innovation is accelerating at HSS as 130 new idea submissions were made to the Global Innovation Institute in 2017 (almost 3x the submissions in 2015). The HSS Education Institute is the world’s leading provider of education on the topic on musculoskeletal health, with its online learning platform offering more than 600 courses to more than 21,000 medical professional members worldwide. Through HSS Global Ventures, the institution is collaborating with medical centers and other organizations to advance the quality and value of musculoskeletal care and to make world-class HSS care more widely accessible nationally and internationally.