• WebMD Review Of Square Da

    From DARYL STOUT@TBOLT to ALL USERS on Fri Dec 4 12:44:00 2015
    WebMD - Don't Be a Square -- Dance!


    Don't Be a Square -- Dance!

    Regardless of your age, square dancing is good for the body and the mind.
    Plus, it's a great way to meet a 'partner'.

    By Denise Mann, WebMD Medical News

    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

    "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

    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."

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  • From DARYL STOUT@TBOLT to ALL USERS on Fri Dec 4 12:44:00 2015
    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.

    Medically Reviewed
    By Dominique Walton, MD, MBA

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