Wind Crest Residents Square Dance Their Way to Better Health

HIGHLANDS RANCH, CO (July 2, 2013) -- Wind Crest retirement community residents are now staying fit through a square dancing club they initiated. Square dancing requires participants to listen to directions and communicate with partners to execute moves, keeping both the mind and the body occupied.   The Fly'n B Square Dancers has evolved from a couple of residents (club founders Pat and Lloyd Bowles) with a passion for dance into a group consistently averaging eight squares, or 32 people. The bi-monthly sessions are now split in half, with the first hour devoted to lessons for beginners and the second hour for regular dance. Square dancing is physically, mentally and socially stimulating. Dancers time their movements to a caller, who directs the dance. Especially for beginners, the lingo of square dance forces dancers to stay alert and in time with the music. "The dancers are learning a new language, terms like 'promenade' and 'allemande,'" Pat Bowles said. "They have to listen and be able to use those calls to make your feet work. The mental activity is responding to the call and then doing it." Bob Riggs, a member of the international group of callers CALLERLAB, directs the Fly'n B Square Dancers. Outside of Wind Crest, he is known for his abilities as a caller throughout the square dancing community of the greater Denver area. Resident Mitzi Hardy offers a free line dance class that meets twice a week and that augments the square dancing club. Dancing keeps the mind sharp and slows down the onset of dementia, she said, by forcing dancers to follow her lead and instructions. "We've done this for five years and some of the ladies have been with me since then," Hardy said. "They like to dance to the music. They just like to move around to it. It keeps them active." Both square and line dancing have positive physical and mental health effects for seniors, according to Wind Crest physician Dr. Jay Straight. "Both types of dancing would serve to increase mental stimulation by stressing the need for following verbal instructions and also be able to do the intricate steps required," he said. "This would also benefit balance and coordination and would have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular fitness."