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Mary Trotter: Line dancing sure beats walking

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When I became a widow, I opted for a sedentary lifestyle. My family doctor told me I had to get active. He suggested walking 30 minutes three days a week. Walking didn't appeal to me. I reasoned it was lonely, boring and either too hot or cold, depending on the season.

Searching for an activity that would fit the need prescribed, I found line dancing. With a degree in music, line dancing gave me the opportunity to listen to music and to spend time with others my age, yet dancing by myself.

Little did I realize just how involved line dancing was until I started the class. I found a beginners class at the Nitro Senior Center. Most of the class are senior citizens.

I bought a pair of line dance shoes, took my bottle of water, entered the room and introduced myself. The instructor asked how much line dancing I had done. "Little to none," I replied.

I got in line with the others and soon found I knew nothing about what they were doing. At the end of the class, she sold me a CD and three sheets of dance patterns. This was the beginning of a great experience and my newfound exercise program.

To line dance, one must develop stamina and learn terms (mental exercises), patterns (balance and quickness) and rhythm (keeping in time to the music). If those were not challenging enough on their own, trying to remember the terms, patterns and rhythms and in what order was a feat.

The instructor would first announce the dance we were to do. I soon found I needed to know the name and run the pattern through my mind before I started the dance.

While standing in front of the group she would count out the pattern. We were to start on the left foot moving forward, then backward on the right foot, side left, side right, vine to the left, rock step, heel, toe ... . Whatever she called out we were to do in time to the music. Now add agility.

We laugh and giggle and she encourages us to continue. To my knowledge, no one has quit.

On occasion, her class dances at benefits. Not me! I'm dancing in place of walking, but many in the class enjoy performing.

Dancing is a great cardiovascular exercise because it requires that you dance in time to the music, which increases the heart rate. Add to that the ability to transfer your weight and keep your balance while you mentally recall the pattern.

I heard on the news that when a person retires, if he or she doesn't keep their brain active, dementia could develop. Let's not let that happen. Start the music, and dance.

If you are a senior citizen looking for a great way to keep fit, have fun and meet people your own age, try line dancing at a senior center.

Mary Trotter, of Scott Depot, may be emailed at MWT110236@aol.com.


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