Official website of the British Association of American Square Dance Clubs
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(This page last updated 17-Feb-2012 - 8.58PM)

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF SQUARE DANCING

 Square dancing is recognised as being a healthy activity both for the brain and the body. In her book Super Brain (see left), Carol Vorderman MBE, M.Eng says:
"Challenge your brain with new and novel tasks.  Here are some suggestions but you will have many others. Always choose something that appeals to you: square dancing, chess, t'ai chi, yoga, sculpture, lace making.  Learning or doing something new enhances your skills and knowledge and gives you a feeling of mastery and self-confidence to continue to build your brain power."
And, regarding the body, the British Heart Foundation visited Tudor Squares in 2008 and published the article below
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Tudor Squares were lucky enough to be approached by the Editor of the British Heart Foundation magazine heart health  for information on square dancing. A visit was arranged which led to an extremely positive article appearing in their August 2008 magazine.
The magazine is free and is supplied to lots of medical establishments, including doctors' surgeries, to their charity shops and to individuals who have asked to be on the distribution list.

The first mention of the article in the BHF magazine appears in the Editor's (Olena Baker)column on page 3 where it is introduced with the following paragraph:

If you are considering a regular physical activity then you might think about giving American Square Dancing a go. I tried out this fun and gentle form of exercise with the Tudor Squares dance group, turn to page 13 to see how I got on. There are clubs up and down the country that cater for beginners as well as advanced dancers and I can heartily recommend it. 

The article proper begins on page 13 and continues to page 14. The thumbnails below give you some idea how the article appears to readers of the magazine. At the side of each of the thumbnails is a copy of the text printed within them.

Page 13    Strictly come dancing

heart health editor, Olena Baker, gets out her swishiest skirt for an evening of do-sa-do

Getting out and enjoying life is all part of looking after your health. And so it is that I find myself in Hemel Hempstead on a Monday evening ready to experience square dancing with the Tudor Squares. Having never been square dancing before, I'm not sure what to expect, it's fair to say that sometimes a fear of the unknown can put you off trying something new.
There was no need to worry as I'm greeted by a friendly and lively bunch, brought together by their love of square dancing. Alan Jackson, long time member, says "The beauty of square dancing is you can take it anywhere."
The Tudor Squares run six nights of dancing every week, and a good number of their 106 members have turned out in their finest tonight. Soon the room is filled with colourful, twirling skirts. Alan and his wife Jean point out, you don't have to dress in classic square dance outfits but it's fun to. John Wilson tells me, "There's a tradition in square dance that men always wear long sleeved shirts because it's an active pastime and you can get a bit damp.   So when a lady touches his arm it's dry." I'm not sure if he is pulling my leg or not, but l look around the room and do see that all the men are wearing long sleeved shirts!
It's very easy to learn the basics of square dance as there are no complicated routines to remember. A 'caller' calls or sings the steps and the dancers follow. Susie Kelly who calls on Monday nights says," We really welcome beginners, I like to think of Square Dancing as friendship set to music." And to prove this point, Susie kept several of the dances basic so I could learn the steps and take part.
John and Doris Wilson have been dancing since 1995 and say it took them about a year and a half to learn a good number of steps, "You need to stick with the basics long enough to get your confidence because it gets more difficult when you move up to higher levels. When you step into a square for the first time you say "I'm new to this and they'll watch out for you; everyone will help."

Page 14 (black print on white background)
To dance a square, you need four couples, and judging from the matching outfits, a number of people have come with their partners. But singles are most welcome too. Maureen Flint, Chair of the club, says: "It's a good way to socialise as the club also organises other activities." Barbara Jones, who has been dancing for 12 years, agrees, "My husband doesn't dance so l couldn't do ballroom, but here I come on my own. It's very sociable and everybody is nice to each other." It has farther reaching benefits than just physical health as Barbara goes on to point out, "lt's therapeutic. If you've had a busy day, you come here and it all goes away."
In fact, many of the people I spoke with said that the social element is one of the biggest draws. Angus Maclver and his wife, Nancy, were looking for something they could do together when he retired. "A lot of men think: 'dancing is for sissies' and it's often their wives who show them how silly that way of thinking is. That's how it was for me and I thank her for it. I really like the social side; we meet many people and they are so friendly, and the dancing is challenging." Angus had a stent fitted a few weeks ago and is already back dancing. "This is my third night out dancing since. lf I need to, I'll take time out and rest. My GP is more than happy I'm doing this and he's even becoming interested in it himself."
Across the UK, classes, clubs and events cater for all. I had a fantastic time and highly recommend it. A number of clubs are offering beginners' classes in September so if you fancy doing a turn on the dance floor why not give it a go?

For a list of clubs visit the British Association of American Square Dance Clubs at squaredancing.co.uk* or telephone Tony Metcalfe on 0113 252 0336. 
* Site replaced by http://www.uksquaredancing.com/

Also on page 14  is an information box (down the right hand side with a heart at the top and corn stalks at the bottom). In that box is printed the following text:

What is square dancing?
lt's a low impact activity that involves numerous directional changes. Four couples form a square, hence its name, and dance a pattern of turning and twisting moves, called out by a 'caller'.  It's accompanied by a variety of different styles of music, until they finish back with their original partner. It's not difficult to learn since basic moves are learnt quickly and others are called out as dances progress.  Rests between dances allow dancers to recover.

What are the benefits of square dancing?
Cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance are improved through the continual physical movement of the activity. Calories burnt off are the equivalent of a brisk walk.  Bone density and balance can improve since weight bearing and turning movements are involved. Mental agility is developed by learning and remembering moves and concentrating during the dances. Social contact is increased.  Positive moods are enhanced with the social interaction and laughter that accompanies sessions

Who is square dancing for?
Men and women, singles and couples of all ages participate and in most cases if you can walk you can square dance!

What do l wear to square dance?
Square dancing is just like any other form of exercise, the exertion involved is bound to make you feel hot so wear clothes that are comfortable, allow easy movement and enable layers to be removed as you get warmer. Footwear should be comfortable since you can be on your feet for some time and provide enough grip so you don't slip over.

Square Dancing is 'Fun and Friendship' set to music