A blog by runners. For runners.

Dance-walk for exercise, stress relief

Have you heard of dance-walking? I sure hadn’t. Then one of my friends mentioned it to me as a topic that might be interesting to cover on this site. I Googled around and was soon hooked on the idea! It all started a couple years ago when television personality Ben Aaron’s posted this funny You Tube video of himself sashaying down the street. Now? People across the country and beyond are looking to dance-walking as a way to burn calories, lift their spirits, and raise money for good causes.

Further research uncovered that the roots of this joyful sweat-inducing activity might be even deeper. Back in 1989 – in the dark ages before these sorts of sensations speed like wildfire on the internet – Hollywood fitness enthusiast Joanna Rohrback introduced the world to Pracercise, which looks like someone galloping around with hand and ankle weights incorporating occasional freeform dance movements. She filed a video quietly away in the Library of Congress and eventually published a book entitled Prancercise: The Art of Physical and Spiritual Excellence.

Fast-forward to today, and – yes – we think this sort of thing looks funny upon first inspection. But after the initial chuckles, people are taking this workout more and more seriously. What do dance-walking and Pracercising have in common? Well, they are both low-impact, total-body workouts. They both bring up your heart rate and, as research shows, dance itself has the power to fight depression by causing the brain “to release the mood-lifting neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine.”

That all sounds promising, no?

Most of all, I love the idea of taking exercise less seriously. I think we can all agree that it’s easy to get bogged down in our training plans or the whole 10,000 steps a day suggestion. Sometimes exercise can just feel like a lot of work, eventually leading to skipped workouts, burnout, and injury. Sometimes all we need to break out of this cycle is a little fun, which dance-walking and its close cousins seem to offer in spades.

What are you waiting for? You can start dance-walking today! There’s a 1,000+ members-strong Facebook group if you’re interested in dance-walking and sharing it with the world. You can also search around to find dance-walking events and meetups near you, like the Beat MS Dance-Walk that was held last year in Los Angeles or the Dance-Walk Columbus Doo-Dah that was enjoyed in 2012.

Whatever you do, look both ways before grooving across the street. Watch for rogue objects that might become tripping hazards. And have fun! Oh, and if you’d rather experience dance-walking in the privacy and safety of your living room, check out Jessica Smith’s 26-minute workout that incorporates dance moves into an in-place walking routine.

Have you heard of dance-walking? Would you ever participate in an event?

Written by Ashley Marcin.