73yr old Grandma Shellie, The Zumba Gold Queen (aka Dr. Shellie)
has taught Zumba Gold in health clubs, meeting rooms, recreation centers, Parkinson’s meetings, Senior Centers, outdoor Latin festivals, schools, private parties and even on the beach. The passionate, pulsating Latin music entices people of all ages. Setting self-consciousness aside, Zumba dancers move with reckless abandon as their bodies naturally move to the Latin rhythms. Whether you are in a good or bad mood or have aches and pains, you get into the dance. Dancing and music has been proven to alter your moods and reduce pain because it changes brain chemistry.
Grandma Shellie doesn’t give medical advice. That’s the role of your health professional. She is a reporter relating stories shared by Zumba students in her classes or who she’s danced with at workshops or events. Grandma Shellie openly shares her own personal experiences. When Grandma Shellie is stressed or depressed, she dances. This is her therapy and this appears to be the therapy of many women who suffer from mild anxiety and depression, frustration, anger or impatience.
Grandma Shellie, known as The Zumba Gold Queen in Florida, Arizona, NY and VA, doesn’t use drugs of any kind, including over-the-counter. She prefers natural medicine, herbs and homeopathic medicines as her first choice of treatment. If that doesn’t work over a period of time, she will go to her health care professional for consultation.
Dr. Shellie (aka Grandma Shellie) doesn’t advocate that people should stop using meds to reduce anxiety or anti-depressants, if prescribed by their health care professional. Zumba Fitness is her medicine.. when she’s tired, she gets energy from a Zumba class. When she’s sad…she’s happier after teaching/taking a class. When she’s angry she’ll work through it after a Zumba class. She says she can think more clearly and resolve the issue, after dancing.
What are the physiological changes going on in your body to alter these moods and cause changes?
“Dance gets you into your body,” says Nancy Cassman, a dance/movement therapist and founder of Express Your Self, a dance and movement center in Boulder, Colo. “In our society, people sit at desks and on couches all the time, and we’ve become very brain-oriented,” she points out. “Dance bridges the gap between the brain and the body so that you tap into your physical, emotional, spiritual and mental being.”
Cassman believes wholeheartedly that when you start moving your body, you’ll start moving the energy in your life too. One reason is that dance releases endorphins, so it functions as a mood enhancer. Part of her work as a movement therapist is exploring how and where people experience emotion in the body. In dance movement therapy, movement – especially the sensual, rhythmic response aroused by dance and music – is used as a way of bypassing the conscious mind and making contact with the inner emotional world. Through dance, hidden emotions can be expressed in a nonverbal way and accepted by the conscious self.
A modest amount of regular exercise effectively relieves mild to moderate depression, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (2005;28:1-8). The results of this study add to the evidence that exercise can relieve the symptoms of mild to moderate depression in people using no other treatment. Furthermore, these findings show that the amount of exercise currently recommended by public health officials of 8 calories per pound per week is effective, but an amount of exercise that expends less energy is not. Based on these findings, healthcare providers can offer current exercise guidelines to people with mild to moderate depression: at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of every week.
“Mild to moderate depression is a leading cause of disability and premature death in the developed world, second only to heart disease. Symptoms include depressed mood, loss of interest in activities, body weight loss or gain, insomnia or excessive sleeping, fatigue or loss of energy, and inability to concentrate. Antidepressant medications are often prescribed to treat depression, which usually work by increasing brain levels of serotonin or norepin-ephrine, chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) that calm or excite the nervous system and improve mood. Although they are generally effective at relieving mild to moderate depression symptoms, some of these medicines can cause serious and uncomfortable side effects, including sexual dysfunction. Other treatment approaches include psychotherapy, dietary changes such as sugar and caffeine restriction, herbal remedies such as Saint John’s wort, and exercise. A number of studies have found that exercise can reduce the symptoms of depression, and one study found that it can be as effective as medication in treating mild to moderate depression.
Lui Tucker says:
“Okay, let’s have a show of hands! How many of you have had a really rotten day at work and gone dancing knowing that you’re going to come out of dancing feeling better? And how many of you have had some sort of difficulty with a parent or spouse or spousal equivalent or child (or boss or co-worker or subordinate) and gone dancing knowing that you’re going to get at least some temporary relief from your stress? And, lastly, how many of you have suggested to a friend who is out of a relationship or out of work or out of sorts, “Hey, come to my dance class with me!” – knowing that your friend will meet new people, network, or otherwise get a dose of social connectivity to boost the spirits?
We can do Zumba Gold standing upright or we can do Zumba Gold in a chair or wheelchair, as shown in this photo from a Chair Zumba Class in Delray Beach, FL. People have reported working up a sweat, reduced pain and more happiness after a 1 hr class.
That’s what is so wonderful about this form of dancing that we all have chosen as a pastime – in addition to being enjoyable, it’s therapeutic. It is good for your body, good for your soul, good for your mood, and good for what ails you! Sometimes, as it turns out, it is also good for your job, good for your social world, and good for your love life!
There are professional therapists who use dance as a means to treat everything from simple tension to unspeakable trauma in their patients. Properly administered and channeled, dance therapy can provide relief from many forms of mental and physical illness. That’s not what this is about.
Lui Tucker writes ,”this article is about the therapeutic benefits of International Folk Dance. From a purely physical standpoint, IFD is an aerobic activity. (just like Zumba Gold Fitness). Prolonged, continuous exercise increases production and release of endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters found in the brain that have pain-relieving properties similar to morphine. Pour enough endorphins into your bloodstream and you get something that has been popularly labeled “runner’s high.” In simple terms, endorphins make us feel good. Dance is therapy because it enhances our feeling of well-being.
Some activities allow the mind to wander and solve problems and even create. I’ve been told by people who spend time each week working out at the gym that they get some of their best ideas while sweating on a treadmill. You lose yourself in the beat of the music, the joy of movement, in the lyrics, in the concentration needed to learn new steps, and in the conversations with friends. Some nights, a dance session is like novacaine, allowing us a respite from the stresses of the day. As with novacaine, the stresses are there when the dancing is over, but for a short time we have some relief. That break from the pressure can be therapeutic and give us the will and the desire to tackle our problems once again.
Zumba Gold Fitness classes are not competitive. “Competition produces adrenaline and elevates the blood pressure, physical responses not associated with dance. There are no referees or penalties, stopwatches or scoreboards, winners, losers, or trophies at the end of the season. Sure, there are a few dancers who drive themselves crazy (and others too!) trying to be the first to know the new dances, master all the dances (and the lyrics to the songs), and be the most desirable dance partner, but at most venues that is not the goal of the class. We don’t have to compete, finish a project on time or under budget, or worry about being laid off or bought out or transferred. For the average dancer, it is a time to relax and enjoy the company of other dancers without the strain of competition.
Zumba Gold Fitness classes provide you with a connection to community.” I suppose there are other hobbies such as some team sports, that create a sense of community. We build friendships and a social network outside of dancing that are built on the framework created in the dance venues. Zumba Gold Fitness builds communities that connect us with others around the world. We all know we can travel and drop in on another Zumba class and fit right in. Zumba Gold Fitness provides us with a sense of belonging, connection and support.
Did you read or hear about the New England Journal of Medicine study done in 2003 that examined various sedentary and physical activities that decrease the risk of dementia and other mental disease associated with aging? Neurologist Joe Verghese followed hundreds of elderly volunteers for more than 20 years. His study found that elderly people who frequently read, do crossword puzzles, practice a musical instrument or play board games cut their risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia by nearly two-thirds compared to people who seldom do such activities. And the best part: among the 25 people who danced frequently, their chance of developing dementia was 76 percent lower. Dancing is good for you now and you’re going to continue to reap the benefits for decades!
Is there any other activity that can match dance in all these areas? I haven’t been able to find one. Would I continue dancing even if dancing were shown to be potentially detrimental or even dangerous? Now there is question for your after-dancing get-together! It’s just nice to know that something I enjoy so much is also so good for me!
Dancing regularly can:
Improve your posture – Dancing can really help to correct the effects of modern living.
Improve cardiovascular health – Dancing combines aerobic activity with weight bearing which will boost your strength and endurance.
Strengthen your heart – Dance uses oxygen, burns calories and increases your hearts workload.
Strengthen your lungs – Cardiovascular activity will increase your lungs workload, therefore strengthening them and increasing their capacity.
Improve your bone density – Dancing slightly jars the bones, which encourages the body to build new bone. This helps to strengthen the skeleton and reduces the risk of conditions such as Osteoporosis.
Improve your balance – Dancing will improve your balance and concentration.
Improve your co-ordination – Exercise improves blood flow to the brain which encourages direct focus and concentration.
Build muscle tone – Regular dancing will improve and build muscle tone throughout the body, particularly in the legs and buttocks. Regular dancers often find they drop a clothes size due to increased muscle tone.
Improve mobility – Dancing will increase the amount of synovial fluid around the joints therefore improving mobility.
Improve flexibility – Dancing will gently lengthen and strengthen your muscles to improve flexibility.
Improve grace and agility – Improved posture, mobility and flexibility will contribute towards improved grace and agility.
Help your circulation – Using your heart more will pump blood around the body and increase your circulation.
Aid in weight loss – Dance is an excellent way to exercise without realising it. Aerobic activity means your heart rate is raised and maintained, therefore, combined with a calorie controlled diet, assisting in weight loss. U.S research shows that a vigorous dance class can burn as many calories as a gym workout.
*Improve your confidence – Dancing encourages confidence and releases endorphins which give you the ‘feel good factor’.
*Help you to relax – Dancing is a great way to forget your troubles for a while, while aerobic activity will physically tire you and aid relaxation.
*Improve your social life – Meet other people and make new friends with others who are just like you, singles, couples and friends alike!
Boost immunity – People who exercise regularly get fewer minor ailments such as colds and flu.
*Improve brain activity – Improved blood flow to the brain keeps it in good shape. Learning new routines encourages the brain to produce new dendrites (connections between nerve cells), which help your brain to store and retrieve information more easily.
*Ease aches and lifts depression – Sustained activity such as dancing releases endorphins. These are body-made chemicals that ease pain, banish depression, and encourage feelings of well-being.
Increase strength and stamina – Aerobic and weight bearing activity will boost your strength and endurance.
Burn up to 400 calories per hour!
Excerpted from Penfriend Magazine, Spring 2007
Dancing is an excellent form of exercise because it not only burns calories and builds muscles, but it also contributes to an overall sense of happiness. Of course, all exercise releases endorphins, but dancing has an increased effect in this realm because it’s not only the physical activity, but also the music, that affect the mind.
Endorphins are released when the body is forced to exert itself at a certain level. You may have heard of a ‘runner’s high’; because dancing is a similar activity, this same boost in mood can be achieved through dancing. In addition to the physical activity of dancing, when dancing is also a performance, adrenaline and endorphins work together to create a dramatic ‘dancer’s high’.
Dancing also affects the mind by contributing to a sense of satisfaction. While you may not reach new goals each day that you dance, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you worked hard towards reaching those goals. Sweating through a series of exercises can be very satisfying even if change comes about at a pace so slow that you can’t see the improvement. In the long term, you will see the fruits of your efforts from year to year, but on a day-to-day basis, most dancers feel very satisfied with having completed their exercises, worked on their turnout, and done their daily stretch routine.
Dancing and Your Mind
Dancing not only has short-term benefits for your mental well-being, but also long-term benefits. Dancers become very good at learning things quickly and methodically because of how often you learn new steps. Dancers learn to repeat things not just with their bodies, but also with their hands and in words. This process of repeating what you just saw or heard until you’ve committed it to memory is a skill, and it serves dancers in all aspects of life, both inside the studio and out.
In addition to enhanced memory skills, dancers also tend to be self-disciplined and self-motivated. Dancers grow accustomed to working in a structured manner toward a goal and realize that results never come overnight. For this reason, dancers are often highly disciplined, and carry this discipline over into other aspects of their lives.
FIND A ZUMBA GOLD FITNESS CLASS
If all these mental benefits sound great to you and you’re not dancing yet, now may be the perfect moment to start. In principle, all forms of dancing have positive mental benefits; however, some forms of dance will have more/different benefits than other types. For example, a slow dance may not burn many calories or release many endorphins, but may well contribute to long-term discipline and memory.
Likewise, a very fast dance could release lots of endorphins today, but not take much discipline or memory (for example a highly improvisational form of dance, which, not yet mentioned here, will help spark creativity, which is yet another mental benefit of dancing). Ultimately, it’s all up to you to decide which dance form is most appealing to you for yourself. Then you can let whatever positive mental benefits come alongside that dance form be a nice bonus.
Benefits of Dance
You’ve always got something to do on Saturday night
Regular touching reduces pain, reduces stress hormones, alleviates depression, enhances attentiveness and improves immune function
The pressure dancing puts on bones strengthens them and makes them more dense, reducing the risk of osteoporosis
Sequential learning and spatial development helps reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s
Improve flexibility and balance
Tone and strengthen muscles
Develop rhythm and coordination
Exercise produces endorphins which cause positive mental effect
The partnership you form on the dance floor extends to other areas of your life
Meet new people and make new friends
Camaraderie with other dancers
Build self-esteem and self-confidence
Book a Zumba Fitness Class at your facility, organization, event or office
Schedule a lecture/workshop on Health & Wellness topics
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