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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Linton

11 Research-verified Benefits of Dancing

Dancing is a delightful activity that brings joy, self-expression, and a sense of connection. Whether you consider yourself uncoordinated or graceful, there are numerous health benefits associated with dancing that make it worth embracing. Not only does it provide a fun and enjoyable experience, but it also offers a wide array of advantages for both your physical health and mental well-being. Whatever your reasons for getting started in dance, there are even more reasons to keep it going. In this post, we will explore the compelling reasons to keep dancing, highlighting the research-backed benefits. So, what does dancing do for us?

  • Improves Cardiovascular Health: Dancing's positive impact on cardiovascular health is backed by scientific evidence. Moderate-intensity dancing has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease and related mortality, surpassing the benefits of moderate-intensity walking. The combination of physical exertion, social engagement, and the relaxation inherent in dancing contributes to its cardiovascular advantages. Dancing at a faster pace elevates heart rate, leading to a stronger and healthier cardiovascular system. This can be true even for people with advanced cardiovascular disease, like heart failure. (If that’s you, check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.) A study conducted in Italy revealed that individuals with heart failure who practiced waltzing experienced significant improvements in heart health, breathing, and overall quality of life compared to those who solely engaged in cycling or treadmill walking.

  • Boosts Brain Health: Dancing has a remarkable impact on brain health. A study conducted by The New England Journal of Medicine discovered that dancing can enhance memory and potentially prevent the onset of dementia. The aerobic nature of dance has been found to reverse volume loss in the hippocampus, the brain region responsible for memory, which tends to shrink during late adulthood. Additionally, engaging in dance challenges the brain and improves cognitive skills such as planning and organizing.

  • Improves Bone Health: The weight-bearing nature of dancing, unlike non-weight-bearing exercises such as stationary biking or swimming, helps maintain bone density. This is particularly valuable for older adults, as it can combat osteoporosis and potentially reverse some of the damage caused by this chronic condition.

  • Promotes Weight Loss: Dancing is an effective way to facilitate weight loss. A study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that aerobic dance training can lead to comparable weight loss results as biking or jogging.

  • Gives us Energy: Engaging in a weekly dance program has been shown to improve physical performance and increase energy levels, as supported by research from The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. Dancing is an invigorating activity that revitalizes the body and boosts overall energy.

  • Boosts Coordination, Balance, and Strength: Dancing involves rapid movements and the maintenance of good posture, contributing to improved coordination, strength, and balance. Unlike simpler activities like walking and cycling that primarily engage only one plane of the body, dancing incorporates movements from all planes, activating all muscles. Tango dancing, in particular, has been shown to enhance balance in older adults, reducing the risk of falls.

  • Improves Flexibility: The movements involved in dancing contribute to increased flexibility and reduced stiffness. Even simple stretches associated with dancing can help alleviate joint pain and soreness resulting from other rigorous exercises.

  • Decreases Stress: Engaging in partner dance accompanied by music has been shown to relieve stress, as highlighted by a study published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology. Dance movement therapy has been shown to impact cortisol levels, a marker of chronic stress, providing unique benefits compared to high-intensity aerobic activities. Dancing can also increase the levels of serotonin, a hormone that improves mood, thereby promoting stress reduction and emotional well-being.

  • Reduces Depression: Research indicates that dancing, particularly in upbeat group settings, can significantly reduce symptoms associated with depression. Participants who took part in lively group dances (Shim Sham or the Big Apple, anyone?) reported increased energy and a more positive outlook.

  • Enhances Social and Emotional Health: Taking part in dance classes provides an opportunity to make new friends and expand social connections, so important to both mental and physical health. Positive relationships have a profound impact on mental health, fostering happiness, stress reduction, and even strengthening the immune system. The shared experience of dance classes creates a sense of camaraderie and belonging, combating loneliness and isolation. Dancing together unites individuals with a common interest and generates a powerful, positive energy.

  • Increases Self-Esteem and Confidence: Dancers often report elevated self-esteem and increased confidence. The act of dancing, regardless of skill level, promotes self-expression and a positive self-image.

Dancing is a versatile activity that caters to people of all ages. Various dance forms, such as ballroom dancing, accommodate individuals with limited mobility or chronic health issues, while children can express themselves freely, release energy, and develop discipline through memorizing and learning choreography.

Beyond the physical benefits, dancing serves as a means of artistic expression, a fun hobby, and a representation of culture. The fusion of movement and music creates a unique and enjoyable workout experience. Engaging all muscles and limbs, dancing simultaneously provides a cardiovascular workout and an opportunity to indulge in pure enjoyment.

In conclusion, the benefits of dancing are abundant and encompass both physical and mental well-being. It serves as an enjoyable and fulfilling activity for individuals of all ages and abilities. From improved brain health and flexibility to reduced stress and depression, dancing has the power to transform lives. Embrace the music, let your body move, and make dance an integral part of your health and wellness routine. You can feel great about the many benefits to your mind and body of this delightful activity.

What about you? What do you feel are the greatest benefits to you of dancing? Please leave a comment.

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