Should Seniors Hop on the Prancercising Craze?


While all the “kids” take off for cardio kickboxing or Zumba classes, seniors may be concerned that diminishing balance or lower endurance would make such high energy workouts too difficult. That’s not true at all. While it’s not as common as bingo or even Wii bowling, some senior communities offer Zumba classes for the more limber residents, and the intensity of the workout can be modified easily.

The best part of the dancing and exercising combo is that it’s okay if you don’t do it exactly right. You’ll still get a good workout and, most importantly, will still have fun. Because the moves take concentration and following the instructor takes focus, you’ll also work out your brain, your memory and sharpen your focus.

Zumba, and kickboxing, for that matter, have been around for years, now, and have proven their worth as effective workouts. But what about seniors looking for something that’s lighter impact, with some of the same benefits? If you haven’t already heard… there’s Prancercising.

What Is Prancercising?
Experts are calling Prancercise more of a craze than a trend, or possibly it should just be considered “crazy.” We’ll see how much staying power it has.

As the name implies, the exercise incorporates prancing and trotting moves, much like a horse’s gait, all to the beat of fun music, with 2 to 5 lb. ankle weights used, alternately, on the ankles or in the hands. Creator Joanna Rohrback, author of Prancercise: The Art of Physical and Spiritual Excellence describes Prancercise as a way to get people “back into nature with free-spirited exercising.”

Her video, released on YouTube last December, just went viral and it’s got everyone from fitness buffs to medical professionals to the over-60 set debating the merits.

Prancercising is not a new workout. It’s been around since the 1980s. (You remember, when you were running around in leg warmers burning fat to Olivia Newton John’s “Physical.”) In case you missed it the first time around, here’s your chance… to prance. But is it worthless, worth it, or just plain dangerous for seniors? Read this before you strap on those ankle weights.

What the Experts Say About Prancercising
Researchers say easier Prancercising moves burn about as many calories as walking slowly while holding something light. The “Gallop,” one of the higher energy movements, burns more calories but, on average, you can burn more with a steady, brisk walk… and walking is safer, too.

Doctors and other health professionals caution that walking with ankle weights can be dangerous if you have joint problems or are unaccustomed to physical activity. Also, it could increase your risk of a twisted ankle or a fall, especially if you’re Prancercising on uneven ground.

Should Seniors Try It?
The sheer silliness of this exercise, prancing like a horse while listening to upbeat music, is bound to make people feel good. Use caution if you decide to incorporate weights, and check with your doctor before starting this, or any, exercise routine.

Prancercising has some benefits, especially if you forego the weights and just adopt the spirit of Prancercising. Get a group of friends together, walk, gallop and be silly, with a smile on your face, while listening to music you love. You’ll get the same cardiovascular benefits as walking and will have fun doing it. At the very least, Prancercising with some friends in your senior community could give you all some good laughs and that, too, can improve your health.

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