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Swing’s the Thing

You can call them the Lindy Hop, the Charleston Kick, the Helicopter, or the Fireman's Toss. But whatever you call the steps and moves couples perform while they swing dance, label them cardiovascular fun.

Thanks to a revival generated by a flair for yesteryear, swing dancing--once king during the 1920s, '30s and '40s--is back. And this fast-paced fun can be serious exercise.

Dance and fitness instructors say swing dancing or swing aerobics can elevate your heart rate quickly. An hour of aerobic dancing can burn several hundred calories. By taking certain blocks of swing movements and repeating them, instructors can create a full impact workout for an entire song.

Once you learn the moves, it's definitely an aerobic activity because it is really fast paced. In an hour it's easy to work up a good sweat.

But get some instruction or practice first. Untrained dancers can swing their partners into other dancers, injure their backs and pull muscles. And, always check with your health care provider before beginning any new exercise plan.

Safety steps

  • Choose footwear carefully. Beware of slippery leather soles; pumps (with reasonable heels) should include straps to keep your shoes from flying off. For practicing, instructors recommend sneakers, such as those with a pebbly bottom, that provide good traction.

  • Don't attempt risky moves, such as flipping a partner, without having extensive practice. When practicing these moves, use floor mats, and do so under the guidance of a knowledgeable instructor.

  • If you are unaccustomed to vigorous exercise, talk to your health care provider, start your lessons slowly and build endurance. Cool down after a fast number.