If you fancy dancing, why not give country a bit of a whirl?

Scottish country dancing in Milngavie

Scottish country dancing in Milngavie

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Everyone seems to be chasing a way they can stay fit and healthy and have fun at the same time.

Slogging it out at the gym doesn’t appeal to everyone and, as the autumn approaches, it’s less appealing to walk or run outdoors.

But, if you ask Bishopbriggs’s Pat McBride what you should be doing, you would get a quick and decisive answer.

Pat, publicity convener with Scottish Country Dance Society Glasgow branch and president of the Bishopbriggs class, has been involved for around 35 years.

“I did a class at high school,” she said, “and I really enjoyed it.

“I was never athletic, and it was the only thing I liked about PE.

“Later I was working in Brussels for four months and a man I worked with would sneak away on a Tuesday night.

“He was going to a Scottish country dance class.

“I went along one night and I loved it – I remembered then how much I had enjoyed it at school.”

Pat has been dancing ever since in Bishopbriggs, a class that is linked to the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (RSCDS).

She said: “What I like about it is the music and the movement.

“I am at my happiest during our dances that we have when there is 80 or 90 people there, a live band and everybody is dancing.”

Pat would now like to see more people realise the full benefits of Scottish country dancing.

Not only is it fun and sociable but the health benefits are also surprising.

In 2010, researchers at the University of Strathclyde studied 70 women, aged between 60 and 85 years old.

Half were Scottish country dancers, the rest participated in other activities such as swimming, walking, golf, and keep-fit classes.

The women were assessed on their strength, stamina, flexibility and balance.

They all compared favourably with the average fitness levels for women in their age range.

However, the Scottish country dancers were shown to have more agility, stronger legs and were able to walk more briskly than people who took part in other forms of exercise.

And research from the University of Cumbria, published in January 2014, suggested that participating in Scottish country dancing could reduce the ageing process.

It also helps to prevent dementia through the complex interplay of cognitive skills needed to memorise steps and formations, interaction with other dancers, and the effect of dance music on the mind.

Pat said: “I recently had a fall and broke my ankle, but the bone density scan showed no sign of osteoporosis.

“The doctor told me that dancing was good at preventing it.”

She added: “I would really like more people to come along and give it a go.

“One lady who started the classes recently said that she really loved it and wondered why she had never known about it before.”

Well, now there’s no excuse – grab your dancing shoes and get your toes tapping across the floor!