The Strictly way to better health

Don’t you just love Dr Michael Mosley? From his sage advice on gut health through to his favourite recipes he always talks sense and now he has reinforced what many of us have long known, that dancing is good for you. In fact it can make you more intelligent and help with your focus, understanding and memory.

The research was done with a professor from Coventry University, and specifically they looked at a salsa class.

They found that the participants had to learn the steps, and remember them set to different music patterns; of course it was important that they kept in time, which meant they must keep focus. This means it’s great for co-ordination and can boost cognitive brain function.

Best of all though it’s fun, and can boost wellbeing, I’m guessing it’s not only salsa either.

Recently while lamenting that I’ve not been asked to be a contestant on Strictly (there’s a big hint if any producers are reading this!) I’ve done the next best thing and taken part in some Fitsteps classes at my local sports centre. They aren’t, as the name might suggest, aerobic-style ‘no pain no gain’-type workout sessions, but rather an energetic dance class choreographed to a wide variety of popular music. (It is Strictly without a partner basically.)

One minute you find yourself dancing graceful ballroom steps, the next you go up-tempo with Latin, through salsa and rumba. It’s an eclectic mix and the music can range from The Great American song book-style tunes through Meatloaf, the Spice Girls and Will-i-am.

I’ve never been one for the gym, and most workout classes leave me exhausted and constantly sneaking a look at the clock hoping it’s nearly over. That’s the beauty of a fun-filled dance class: you have to concentrate or you miss the beat. It’s a form of mindfulness really, and I’m guessing that’s what was found in this research was that people focused and increased their memory skills through the learning and executing of the sometimes complex dance steps, to music.

If you can’t make it to a class, grab a video, or just pop on some music, and dance round the kitchen – enjoy!