Bootscootin' good for you

YOU don't have to be a little bit country to get into the swing of line dancing. Just ask the women of the Ballina Bootscooters.

“Fun, fitness and friendship; that's what line dancing is,” says Cath Butler, from Ballina Bootscooters. “It's a great way to meet new people, socialise, have some fun, and it's a great form of exercise.”

Most of the members of Ballina Bootscooters are in their fifties and sixties, and they all say line dancing is a fantastic fitness program.

The experts agree. Line dancing is known to be one of the most beneficial ways to improve a person's long-term health over the age of 50. Studies have shown that regular line dancing can lower high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and increase mobility without joint damage. Line dancing is also beneficial to the cardiovascular system, improves hand-eye co-ordination and balance (improving balance is a great way to avoid the falls that can have such a devastating and debilitating effect later in life).

Another reason line dancing is so great for the over 50s, particularly women, is the increase in bone health. A 2007 study in the journal Osteoporosis International showed that post-menopausal women who regularly practiced line dancing demonstrated a bone preservation effect in their lower extremities.

Researchers also found positive changes in endurance, flexibility, resting heart rate, strength and walking speed, as well as a boost in psychological health and reductions in the perception of 'bodily pain'.

Lea Knudson, 66, of Tintenbar, joined the Ballina Bootscooters a few years ago after seeing the ladies do a demonstration at a local fete, and now attends at least three classes a week.

“I love it,” she says. “It's good for my brain because I have to remember all the steps, and above all, it's great fun.

“I would never have started line dancing, because I thought the music would be very country and western style, and that isn't to my taste, but it isn't at all. The music is just great - we dance to everything from ABBA, to swing, to pop songs.

“We all really enjoy ourselves. There is always lots of laughing, and we get together after class for a coffee and a chat.”

Ballina Bootscooters holds classes every week, with beginners' classes at 9.30am on Tuesdays. Call Cath Butler on 6681 1452 for more information.

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