For those seeking to improve their physical and mental health, Scottish country dancing may prove to be the unlikely answer.
Ranfurly Scottish Country Dance Club tutor Carolyn Cooper says Scottish dancing provides excellent aerobic exercise.
“You end up doing a lot of movement. During a four-hour ball, you would dance two miles,” she says.
She is not even talking about the super-energetic highland dancing with swords.
The Ranfurly club concentrates on more genteel folk dancing, which involves groups of eight dancers synchronising steps and tracing various patterns across the dance floor.
She says the best thing about this kind of dancing for exercise is that it’s a lot of fun.
“Have you ever seen anyone really smiling at a gym? They are all straining,” she says.
But with dancing, even when things go wrong, everybody continues to have a great time.
“Sometimes there’s so much chaos going on on the floor, everyone falls about laughing.”
But it’s in improving mental health that Scottish dancing really makes an impact.
Carolyn says it is recommended by neurosurgeons for those having suffered strokes, because it encourages both the left and right side of the brain to absorb all kinds of information, and then use that information to direct the body to control the hands and feet.
It also improves memory, as dancers strive to memorise patterns and the jargon that identifies them.
She says one former regular dancer at the club was suffering from the early signs of Alzheimer’s, but on club nights benefitted from two hours of mental stimulation, which he absolutely loved.
The Ranfurly Country Scottish Dance Club runs a beginners’ course at the start of each dance season.
Everyone from the age of 10 upwards is welcome to attend.
The club meets at the Kaipara Flats Hall and the course starts on Monday, March 4, at 7.30pm.
Info: Carolyn Cooper 09 425 7690 or Peter Armstrong 09 425 9386.