By Paula Walter

If you happen to pass by the United Methodist Church on a Monday evening, you may just hear the sounds of music and laughter coming from the fellowship hall as The Young at Heart square dancers gather together for an evening of dance, fun and music. Not only is it fun, but square dancing just happens to be the official Tennessee state folk dance.
According to Sarah Ransom, who is the University of Tennessee extension family consumer science agent, there are currently 18-24 active members of the Young at Heart group who meet on Monday evenings. While many of the dancers have been there for years, approximately 10 to 12 new people have recently joined. They vary in age from nine up to 83 years old. The majority of the group are seniors. “The group is very friendly and welcoming,” said Ransom. “We laugh, have fun and have a good time.”
The group has recently offered dance lessons for those who are new to square dancing. There are approximately six home school students who have joined in on the fun and as a bonus, they are able to count their time dancing as a physical education credit. According to Ransom, square dancing is good for you, not only for physical activity, but it helps with memory, recall and listening. “It teaches you teamwork as well,” Ransom said. “You have to remember the order and carry out the steps.”
Besides just having fun, there are many reasons to square dance. It is a great form of stress relief. You and your partner can dance together and it’s a good way to socialize. Dancing is a safe way to exercise. It keeps your brain sharp as you remember the calls and dance steps associated with them. You burn calories, approximately 200 to 400 calories for 30 minutes of dancing. It’s low impact and helps improve your heart health. As with any exercise, it can result in a lower resting heart rate and lower your blood pressure.
It’s been recommended that people get in at least 10,000 steps a day. It’s been estimated that square dancers get in between 9,000 to 10,000 steps per dance. The dance movements help strengthen bones, especially those that are weight bearing. It is also reported to slow down the loss of bone mass. Dancing keeps your joints moving. It’s also been shown that those who engage in mental and physical activities help slow the onset of dementia and Alzheimer disease, and those who dance seem to fall less as they age.
The Young at Heart meeting Monday evenings 6:30 pm to 7:00 pm for those taking lessons, and dancing is from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. The cost is $5 per member, $10 for a family, just $2 for beginners and the first two classes are free. You can come alone or with a partner. There are no classes on holidays or if there is inclement weather.
If you have any questions, contact Willie Hammons at 727-8750.