513-288-5090       Ken Roberts       937-435-7430

Square Dance Caller



Here are some articles I found on the internet about the health benefits of Square Dancing:

Dancing will add ten years to your life!

The following are excerpts printed from the United Square Dancers Association News, reprinted from Dacnin’ News of Central Florida and The Caller of Memphis, Tennessee.

Live Ten Years Longer!

Square Dancing will add ten years to your life, a surprising new study shows. Dr. Arron Blackburn states " It’s clear that square dancing is the perfect exercise. It combines all positive aspects of intense physical exercise with none of the negative elements."

Dr. Blackburn said square dancing is a low impact activity requiring constant movement and quick directional changes that help keep the body in shape. The study was based on their physical examination which indicated that both female and male square dancers could expect to live well into their 80's.

Square dance movements raise heart rates like many good aerobic exercises should. All the quick changes of direction loosen and tone up the muscles--but not so severally as to cause injury. In square dancing, when you’re not moving, you’re clapping hands and tapping your feet, which all contributes to long term fitness.

"You don’t see a lot of 55 year old basketball players, but that’s just the age when square dancers are hitting their peak", he said.


The following was reprinted from January 1994 Mayo Clinic Health Letter


Jazz up your fitness routine with a regular dose of dancing!

Evelyn resolved that in 1994 she’d exercise regularly. But it’s only the beginning of the new year and she’s already bored with her new stationary bike. The rowing machine and treadmill at the YMCA hold little appeal. When a friend coaxed her to go along for an evening of free dance lessons, she realized exercise doesn’t have to be a chore.

It’s true. Whether you’re swirling across the dance floor to a Strauss Waltz or doing do-si-dos to the commands of a square dance caller, you’re getting exercise - and probably having fun too.

Dancing pairs you up with more than a partner. From burning calories to socializing with friends, dancing offers these health benefits:

Calories - Dancing can burn as many calories as walking, swimming or riding a bicycle. During a half-hour of dancing you can burn between 200 and 400 calories. One factor that determines how many calories you’ll expend is the distance you travel. In, one study, researchers attached pedometers to square dancers and found that each person covered five miles in a single evening.

Cardiovascular Conditioning - Regular exercise can lead to a slower heart rate, lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol profile. Experts typically recommend 30 - 40 minutes of continuous activity three or four times a week. Dancing may not provide all the conditioning you need, but it can help. The degree of cardiovascular conditioning depends on how vigorously you dance, how long you dance continuously, and how regularly you do it.

Strong Bones - The side to side movements of many dances strengthens you weight bearing bones (tibia, fibula and femur) and can help prevent or slow loss of bone mass (osteoporosis).

Rehabilitation- If you’re recovering from heart or knee surgery, movement may be part of your rehabilitation. Dancing is a positive alternative to aerobic dancing or jogging.

Sociability - Dancing contains a social component that solitary fitness endeavors don’t. It gives you an opportunity to develop strong social ties which contribute to self-esteem and a positive outlook.

Tomorrow night when you consider settling down for a little television, turn on the music instead. After a few spins around the living room, you’ll have so much fun you may forget you’re exercising.


Taste of Home’s Light & Tasty

October/November 2002 page 49

Fun with Fitness

"For this reader and her husband, fitness is anything but the same old song and dance"

Square Up, Slim Down and Promenade the Pounds Away

By Diane Gustwiller; Defiance, Ohio

  WHENEVER I HEAR a do-si-do, I hurry onto the dance floor... I can't wait for that toe-tapping music to start!

It was just last year that my husband and I first tried square dancing...and now we're truly a swinging couple. We've joined three area dance clubs and get together to square dance four or five nights a week. We have a terrific time enjoying one another's company... and while we're having fun, we're also staying fit.

Experts say Western square dancing is an excellent form of aerobic activity. It keeps the heart rate elevated without putting a lot of stress on the joints. I have a few dancing friends, for example, who have had heart surgery and hip and knee replacements, and their doctors insisted they continue dancing twice a week.

Personally, I've found that square dancing increases my energy level and practically eliminates all those aches and pains that are associated with age. It also helped me lose weight for good.

You see, I gained a lot after the birth of my first child. I tried all sorts of diet and exercise fads, but nothing worked. Several years and five children later, I was truly tipping the scales.

After the kids were grown, I was determined to do better. I began eating well-balanced meals and taking 2-mile walks. John had promised that when I lost 40 pounds, he would take me out to celebrate with a night of dancing.

I was so excited when I finally reached my goal! When John asked me where I'd like to go, I told him square dancing.

   Swing Your Partner

We were both a bit nervous when we entered the dance hall...and sat close to the exit in case we wanted to leave early.

That thought never crossed our minds, however, because everyone there was so friendly. They explained the various aspects of square dancing and told us about local dancing organizations.

Our new friends asked the dance caller to call something easy for us, and we anxiously took to the floor. The others guided us along, and before we knew it, we were square dancing!

John and I eagerly signed up for lessons. At first, our arms, legs and feet were a little sore, but our muscles grew stronger after a few classes and soon we could dance all night long.

We started dancing regularly with other dance club members - in everything from state fair pavilions and extravagant halls to nursing homes and our friends' garages. We even danced on a float moving through a parade.

Not only did square dancing bring John and me closer together and introduce us to lifelong friends, it drastically improved our overall health as well.

After only 6 months of eating right and square dancing, I lost 40 more pounds. A year later, I'm still losing weight, and John is reducing inches around his waistline.

For me, that's the exciting thing about square dancing ... we have so much fun doing it that the extra pounds seem to melt away on their own.

Square dancing has brought us together in another way, too We began to publish a magazine, Dancing Data, from our home. It serves square dancers in the Midwest and is a fun way to share our enthusiasm and knowledge about Western square dancing with others.

The Low-Down on the Hoedown

Still not sure if swinging across the dance floor is the right exercise for you? Consider the following:

§         If you can walk, you can square dance. I've danced with all sorts of people, from 10-year old kids to folks over the age of 90. Because Western square dancing relies on walking steps, nearly everyone can do it.

§         Western dancing is universal. No matter what state or country you're visiting, Western square dancing follows the same patterns and is always called in English. Square dancers have no trouble finding a dance ... even when on vacation.

§         The price is right. Most square dance events charge between $5 and $8 per couple for an entire evening of dancing. And all you'll need are suitable shoes, comfortable clothes and the desire to let loose and have a good time.

I recommend lessons for beginners. The classes offer terrific workouts and are an excellent way to meet others.

Not sure how to get started in square dancing? E-mail me at dosido678@aol.com .  I'll try to put you in touch with a square dance organization near you.

Once you hit the floor, you'll fall in love with Western square dancing and its many benefits. I guarantee you'll want to swing your partner long past when it's time to promenade home!


FITNESS TIPS. Have you discovered a way to make exercise enjoyable? Send your story to "Fun with Fitness", Light

& Tasty, 5925 Country Lane, Greendale, WI 53129 or E-mail to editors@lightandtasty.com.


Original page:

This article is from the WebMD
Feature Archive


Don't Be a Square -- Dance!

Do-Si-Do Fitness

By Denise Mann
WebMD Feature


July 9, 2001 -- "Bow to your partner, bow to your corner, circle left, alemand left ... swing and promenade home."

In squares of eight across the country, Americans from senior-citizen age on down are linking arms, sashaying, and "do-si-doing" themselves to longer, healthier, and happier lives. They're having a blast and also lowering their risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer, age-related memory loss, osteoporosis, and depression.

Good for Body and Mind

With all its moving, twisting, and turning, square dancing provides more than the daily dose of heart- and bone-healthy physical activity. Remembering all the calls -- from "do-si-do" to 'alemand' -- keeps the mind sharp, potentially staving off age-related memory loss, experts say. And the companionship that regular square dancing offers is an antidote to depression and loneliness, a statement confirmed by square-dancing advocates everywhere.

Take Larry McKinley, a 62-year-old who has been square dancing for 30-plus years with his wife, Sue -- who, incidentally, he met at a square dance. "We do it as often as we can, maybe five or six times a week," he tells WebMD.

"The listening -- and executing the commands -- takes deep concentration. The twisting and turning are not too hard on you, but give your body the exercise that it needs," he says.

McKinley's club, the London Bridge Square Dance Club of Lake Havasu, Ariz., has 80 members, and the average age of a member is 75.

"We recently graduated an 84-year-old," he says. "Graduated," in square-dancing terms, means the student has earned a Mainstream dance level.

There are four levels of square dancing, McKinley tells WebMD. There's Mainstream, then there's Plus, followed by the more professional, exhibition-levels, A-1 and A-2. McKinley is a Plus-level square dancer.

"It's very easy once you learn," he says. "Years ago, I was getting a divorce and didn't want to be a bump on a barstool." That's when he went to his first dance and got hooked.

"It's just so much fun. Square dancing is setting friendship to music," he says. "It's having a place to get up and go in the evening where you can work up a good tired and a good sweat."

'If You Can Walk, You Can Square Dance'

McKinley knows what he's talking about. Square dancing contributes to a more healthy and independent lifestyle, says Lewis Maharam, MD, a sports medicine specialist in New York City and president of the Greater New York Regional Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine.

"Anything that keeps you active will keep you healthier and feeling younger. In most cases if you can walk, you can square dance, but it's good advice to talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen," says Maharam, also medical director of the Suzuki Rock 'n' Roll Marathon® in San Diego, the Country Music Marathon™, and the New York City Marathon.

"Any weight-bearing exercise, including square dancing, is a major benefit as one ages," he says. Weight-bearing exercise improves bone health and thus may help stave off the brittle-bone disease osteoporosis.

"Square dancing also helps you with the feeling of where you are in space and with coordination, and this may reduce falls and chances for fractures," says Maharam. "Regular square dancing may boost endurance, and being able to tolerate longer bouts of moving faster may result in improved cardiac function as the heart, a muscle, can become more efficient if trained. Square dancing can be considered a type of cross training, which helps to offset the muscle loss and strength loss typically associated with normal aging."

A Social Form of Exercise

The physical benefits of square dancing are impressive, to be sure, but don't discount the social payoff, says Jerry Reed of Coca, Fla.

"The primary benefit [of square dancing] is the social interaction between people," says Reed, executive director of CALLERLAB, the international association of square-dance callers, with 2,000 members worldwide.

"Most of the activities that people do these days are individual, such as golfing, tennis, and bowling," he says. "Square dancing is kind of unique in that it involves touching hands -- we turn, we swing, and that seems to bring us closer together."

And the touching in itself can be beneficial to health, according to studies conducted at the Touch Research Institute in Miami, which showed that regular touching can reduce stress and depression and enhance immune system function.

What to Expect

"A typical evening is about two hours long and in that time we dance six 'tips,' " Reed says.

A tip includes a "hash calling" -- where the caller calls out some moves, which the dancers execute in smooth, choreographed routines -- and a "singing call," which can include all types of square-dance moves timed to fit popular songs. On any given evening, dancers will twirl across the floor to the music of John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Road," the Bee Gee's "Stayin' Alive," Donna Summer's "She Works Hard for the Money," as well as songs by the Beatles and Elvis Presley.

Reed calls about four dances a week. Today's square dancing is hipper than what most people see in movies, he says, and more therapeutic than you might think.

"It takes your mind off of the day-to-day problems," he says. "All those other worries and thoughts disappear when you are dancing."

Ready to Sashay Your Way to Fitness?

You say you're tempted, but not sure if you've got what it takes? Don't underestimate yourself, says Reed.

"Square dancing is not as complex as it looks, he says. "We just learn one move at a time and go from there."

So what's stopping you from joining in all the fun? Square dance clubs are popping up all across the world, and they want you. Ask at your local community center or check your local Yellow Pages for information on square dancing clubs and events in your neighborhood.





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