Dancing for your health!

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Did you know that dancing the night away can actually burn more calories per hour than riding a bike or swimming?  That's why people are hitting the dance floor to do more than move to the music!

It's just another day on the job for dance instructor Daniel Gonzalez with Latin Moves by Daniel, but for the dancers, ranging in age from their 20s to 70s, this is their chance to move with a purpose.  "It's just a great form of exercise and fun," says Raymond Kaough, "we enjoy the fun part of it more than anything else!"

Kaough is a retired 72-year-old who's danced with his wife for decades.  Now they're reaping the health benefits that come along with their favorite pastime.  "It's increased my coordination and strength," he says, "and maybe even my brain a little bit."

49-year-old Yvonne Durbin has gone from an introverted out-of-shape mom and grandma to an energy-spewing dance diva with a shrinking waistline.  "In six months I went from a size 16 to a 10," she says, "and now I'm in a size 6."

Gonzalez says not only is dancing an exceptional way to let loose, but it also provides some terrific benefits for your health.  "When they're moving, they're taking out all the stress," says Gonzalez, "this is aerobic and this is dancing that I recommend for everybody at any age."

Whether you kick up your heels to salsa or country, dancing is proven to decrease blood pressure, manage weight, strengthen bones and relieve stress.  Gonzalez says, "You are doing a cardiovascular exercise and a mental exercise - that to me is more important.  When you have mental health, you have the rest."

Both Kaough and Durbin say they have no plans to drop this heart healthy habit.  Durbin says, "I couldn't stop if I wanted to."  Kaough adds, "If I stop, it'll be because I have to...I expect to do this as long as I can walk."

If you're curious about how many calories you can burn in one hour of dancing, based on a 150 pound person:

*ballroom dancing: 265 calories
*salsa dancing: 420 calories
*aerobic dancing: 540 calories

Dancing is also being used as a teaching tool for local elementary students.  5th grade students at Kaufman Elementary are among a handful of students learning life lessons through The Whistle Stop's "Dancing Classrooms."

It's an arts-in-education life skills program that uses ballroom dancing to build self-esteem and confidence in children.  Gonzalez also teaches this program and has seen it explode in popularity as more teachers and parents see the positive results.  "Basically we started with five or six schools the first year," he says, "It was very hard. But now, we have 13 schools and we have a list of all the schools that want to have the program."

Citgo Community Relations Specialist Dana Keel has seen the children in dancing classrooms hit the dance floor before and sings the program's praises.  "It was phenomenal," she says, "the children were so respectful of each other. They were so elegant. It was almost like we were watching professional dancers that were adults."

*To help expand this program to other schools, Citgo is teaming up with The Whistle Stop to present "Dancing Classrooms on Tour," and you can get involved in a unique way. Saturday, February 6th, come spend your afternoon dancing with Daniel in a head-to-toe dance workshop at Citgo Park in Sulphur.  It's $100 and all of the proceeds go to the dancing classrooms program.  Call 562-2344 to register...space is limited!

**For more information on "Latin Moves by Daniel" call Daniel Gonzalez at 884-6808.  Classes are offered 3-4 times a week at his studio on Ryan Street in Lake Charles.

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