5 Benefits of the Twist to Keep Your Mind and Body Healthy

5 Benefits of the Twist to Keep Your Mind and Body Healthy
Conway Twitty, Chubby Checker, and Dick Clark Twistin’ the Night Away

Dancing the Twist became a worldwide craze in the early 1960s, inspired by the rock ‘n’ roll music at the time and brought into the mainstream by artists such as Hank Ballard and Chubby Checker. It wasn’t long after the release of hit song ‘The Twist’ that teenagers all over the world were swivelling their hips and feet on the dancefloor.  

At the time, the dance was very controversial, with a large percentage of the population deeming it ‘too vulgar’ and ‘barbaric’, though tame by today’s standards. It was also one of the first dances which allowed women to dance solo, which was a certainly a progression into feminism, as well as the free-spirted nature of the 1960s. 

The basic movement is simple; 

  1. Stand with one leg extended forward and arms extended forward from your elbows. 
  1. Swivel your hips from side to side (as if you were rubbing yourself with a towel. Keep your knees slightly bent and as you twist your hips, twist your arms the opposite way. 
  1. Twist your feet as well (as if you were putting out a cigarette).  
  1. Your whole body should be moving forward, backwards, and side to side whilst you twist. 

These are just the essential steps – you can also add extra movement on top of this. Some popular additions include the ‘mashed potato’, the ‘single leg twist’, and ‘swimming’.  

The Twist paved the way for many ‘fad dances’ which came after, from the ‘Funky Chicken’ to the ‘Watusi’. 

Below are 5 Benefits of the Twist to Keep Your Mind and Body Healthy:

Improves your cardiovascular health 

The Twist is a dance which requires high energy, using your whole body to bounce and swivel to upbeat music. It is a fun and entertaining way to burn calories and work up a sweat. Doing this will get your heart pumping, which will increase the oxygenation and blood flow around your body.  

The long-term benefits of this are immense. Some of these can include reducing your risk of heart disease, diabetes, strokes, dementia, and even some kinds of cancer.  

Everyone knows how important the heart is, so keeping it happy and healthy is one of the best ways you can look after yourself, whatever your age. (And why not have fun while you’re at it!) 

Increases your mobility and flexibility 

Though straightforward, the Twist involves using your whole body to rotate your limbs back and forth repeatedly. In doing this, overtime your limbs will become more flexible, allowing you more mobility throughout day-to-day life. This could lead to more independence if your mobility is suffering.  

Improving mobility also leads to better balance and control, equalling fewer falls and injuries. Your posture should also improve through using your back whilst twisting, leaning back and forth into the movement.  

Improves Co-ordination 

Whilst dancing the Twist, your limbs are often moving in opposite directions to each other, for example, as your hands hips and shoulders twist to the left, your knees and feet may twist to the right. There are multiple variations of co-ordinated body part twists, which can be done in a sequence or at random. Once you are used to the movement of the Twist, you can start to freestyle, using your musical intuition to know what variation feels right and which part of your body you want to move and where.  

This translates well to everyday life, where you can naturally co-ordinate your body whilst walking, exercising, driving, and running (to name a few activities). Better co-ordination correlates with improved agility – meaning the benefits are endless!  

It’s great fun! 

The Twist first gained popularity in dancehalls and nightclubs, where teenagers would go with their friends to drink, laugh, and dance the night away. It was so lively and contagious, it wasn’t long before the adults started joining in as well!   

There’s no precision or strictness associate with the dance. You don’t need to be Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers to pull off dancing the Twist. Anybody can do it, which was part of the appeal.  

It allows you to burn calories without having to think too much about the next move or whether you can keep up. The simplicity makes it easy to socialise throughout, acting as a catalyst for a convivial and cheerful atmosphere. Naturally this releases endorphins, boosting your happiness and providing a healthy way to have a good time. 

Boosts your confidence 

As mentioned previously, the Twist was one of the first dances introduced to the masses where the woman could dance solo, without even touching a partner. This encouraged dancers to explore their movement, leading to more creativity and freedom as their confidence grew.  

The Twist is ideal if you want to build your self-confidence whilst dancing, as the emphasis is on smiling and having a good time, and with this the moves will soon follow! So whether you have been dancing for decades or it’s your first ever dance class, doing the Twist is a fun time for everyone!  

“There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them.”  – Vicki Baum 

Xpress-Yourself Dance CIC run weekly Keep Dancing classes, suitable for older adults across, Birmingham, Solihull, Walsall, Sandwell and online. Keep Dancing will teach you dances from around the world with no need for a dance partner. Find your nearest Keep Dancing class here. 

If you enjoyed reading 5 Benefits of the Twist to Keep Your Mind and Body Healthy, you might want to consider reading 5 Ways the Rumba Can Benefit Your Mind and Body

To find out more about Xpress-Yourself Dance CIC follow us on Facebook. 

Thank you for taking the time to read our blog 5 Benefits of the Twist to Keep Your Mind and Body Healthy and keep dancing! 
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