Ballet - To Keep You Young & Heathy For Longer
So, why is ballet so good for us?
It gets lots of little-used muscles working and improves posture, so can strengthen sore backs and joints.
It could help balance problems, chronic dizziness and may even stave off memory loss. Some experts consider dance a useful method for managing degenerative conditions such as dementia and Parkinson's.
One of ballet's core ideas is alignment - keeping the head, shoulders and hips perfectly balanced and in line at all times, whether standing still or halfway through a pirouette.
'Ballet improves posture, and builds strength and flexibility at the same time,' says chartered physio-therapist Sammy Margo.
Unlike jogging, where you're moving in the same way all the time, ballet gives you a variety of movement. You're moving joints and muscles in different directions and in ways you might not normally work them.
It's lower impact than aerobics, but could still burn at the minimum of 250 calories an hour, depending on your aspirations and chosen training class.
'Dancing makes the brain more efficient at balancing,' says consultant neurologist Dr Barry Seemungal. 'The change was more pronounced in the dancers who practised the most - it's not something they're born with.' The researchers are hoping to develop a dance-based therapy for dizziness.Another benefit of ballet is that its steps may be easier for beginners to remember. This is because the movements have names that the teacher will call out.
Professor Ruth Day, a cognitive scientist at Duke University, found that when beginner and intermediate dancers listened to the names of movements as they tried to learn a new sequence, their recall of the routine was 15 to 30 per cent better than without spoken cues.
What's more, a two-decade long study on the effects of leisure activities and mental acuity as we age, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found dance was the only physical activity linked with a lower risk of dementia (along with non-physical activities, such as reading and doing the crossword). The explanation offered by neurologists is that dance is a complex activity for our brain, working different neural pathways.This could be because it combines physical activity with cognitive stimulation - in order to recall a sequence of steps, for example - and also has a social component.
And then there are the psychological benefits.
'The combination of music and movement can play a crucial role in bringing people into the present, away from confusion and low mood - an issue in Parkinson's and dementia,' says Daphne Cushnie, a neurological physiotherapist.
'It's a social activity, which can help combat the isolation people with these conditions can feel.'
But with these considerations, there's no reason ballet why couldn't be a step towards better health.
So, no matter what is your age, fitness level or physical structure exercising ballet can be a great benefit not just for your fitness level r weight loss and also for your heath, redefining your wellbeing.