Dancing as a Source of Exercise?
Last updated: March 2023
As a heart failure patient, my doctors have told me how important regular exercise is. I think it is far easier to do something consistently when it is fun! And, sometimes I need to find ways to mix it up for it to be fun. For anyone else that finds themselves in a mini exercise rut, you may want to think about dancing.
Dancing: Versatile exercise for people with heart failure
The nice thing about dancing is that it is so versatile. You can truly go slow or fast, it can be done single or as a part of a pair and you can take lessons, attend community dancing events or find (free) YouTube tutorials. Whatever your physical level, financial budget, or partner status, dancing can accommodate you instead of you having to accommodate the activity. It's also a nice indoor activity when it gets cold or hot and being outside is a no-go.
Grab a partner, or don't!
So yes, there are partner dances. There are faster styles like Swing or Salsa or slower ones like Foxtrot, Hustle, and Viennese Waltz. These styles of dance are not all the older stuffy dances that I associated with an older generation. Also, if you are looking for a solo style dance you can go to Youtube and search the Charleston, solo swing dancing, shim sham, or solo jazz dances. If you enjoy dressing up, think about the dancing of the Roaring Twenties and flappers. Jazzy Feet has a terrific YouTube account and is a single female dancer. There are SO MANY OPTIONS!
How do I get started?
As far as the means to dance, there are national franchise dance studios like Arther Murray where you can pay to take solo or group lessons. You can also find community dancing events at a much lower cost, or again free online tutorials on YouTube.
Do not worry if you feel like physically it will be too hard or not challenging enough; I am telling you, it is exercise and a lot of steps, but you can also stop whenever you want! This is not like a group game like softball where taking a time out pauses things for everyone.
Truly, this can be a heart failure-friendly form of exercise. Also, I have personally found that it used my brain too. It's a double win!!
Building connections through dance
Lastly, the benefits of dancing also extend to building connections with others. Heart failure can be such a lonely and overwhelming place. Personally, having strong relationships has been helpful for me. Dancing has been an activity that my partner and I can do together, and taking group lessons was a way to interact with others. Even if I was alone, I would also say that dancing is a terrific way to meet others. There are community dancing events and swing dancing ballroom events, and I would not hesitate to go on my own. Heck, someday if my boyfriend annoys me, I think I will start going alone! While it is a partner activity it is also a singles activity, and I have found that the dancing community is welcoming and inclusive. If you feel like you are in a rut, you may want to consider giving it a shot!
Dancing with heart failure
Have you tried dancing as a form of exercise? What was your experience like? What other heart failure-friendly exercises have you found work for you?
Have you experienced shortness of breath in the last week?