Dancing is an activity that is done in almost every culture, in one form or another. It is widely accepted as being very healthy. But dancing actually has more health benefits than you might realize. Let’s take a closer look at the hidden benefits of ‘getting into the groove’. There are some very astonishing bonuses!
The health benefits of dancing fall into three main categories: social, mental, and physical health benefits.
Social health benefits
We know that dancing is a great way to meet new people and make new social connections, and it is a whole lot of fun! Many people also find it easier to commit to going out dancing every week than going to the gym. Dancing has no restrictions when it comes to age, size, body shape, whether single or with a partner. There are so many types of dancing, and various levels of dancing – there really is something for just about everyone.
Here are a four hidden social health benefits that are not so obvious:
- Bridge builder: It can build bridges between cultures.
- Bonding: It can bring people closer together – awakening past close relationships or starting new ones.
- Building social skills: Dancing could involve developing specific social skills such as working with a partner (like in ballroom dancing) or working with a whole group of people (like in square dancing).
- Connectedness affects the body: Staying socially connected not only increases overall happiness, but it reduces stress and improves the immune system!
Mental health benefits
Dancing challenges us to recall moves and sequences, often in a very short time frame. This definitely increases our memory. The music itself can be very therapeutic, which can reduce stress levels and minimize depression.
There are 6 incredible hidden mental health benefits that we might not have considered. Dancing has a positive effect on our:
- Concentration: Dancing often requires a lot of concentration and focus, which leads to stress release – basically, you forget all about the day’s stressful issues.
- Long term memory recall: It can bring back happy memories from previous years and/or previous enjoyable dance experiences.
- Confidence: Builds confidence when new dance moves and skills are mastered.
- Mental outlook: Leads to a positive mental outlook and greater self-esteem.
- Risk of dementia: According to a study cited in the New England Journal of Medicine, frequent dancing has been found to reduce the risk of dementia by an astounding 76%! It has also been shown to stimulate memories of the past in Alzheimer’s patients.
- Brain’s neural pathways: Brain research tells us that our brain can (and does) frequently rewire neural pathways when it needs to. Dancing is an activity that can cause the brain to rewire its pathways, increasing mental acuity.
Physical health benefits
Besides getting a good cardio workout if the form of dancing is fast and the heart rate is increased, dancing burns calories and helps us maintain a healthy body weight. It helps to strengthen and tone muscles without being excessively hard on the joints. It also requires good core strength to maintain good dance posture.
There are eight important physical health benefits that we can’t necessarily see:
- Increased heart health: Dancing for 20 minutes three times per week has been found to actually increase heart health better than a cardio workout!
- Improved balance: Dancing helps promote good posture and physical balance, which can avert falls.
- Physically healthier brain: It can help keep your brain physically healthy. It increases blood flow to the brain, and increases brain activity, which stimulates more brain chemicals that support nerve cell growth.
- Improved bone health: Dancing is a weight bearing exercise that helps the bones by building bone mass.
- Helps with health issues: It helps control some health issues such as diabetes, arthritis, obesity and more
- We feel good! Dancing increases general feelings of wellbeing, because the body produces more serotonin and other ‘feel good’ brain chemicals.
- Energizing: It is very invigorating, even though it takes a lot of energy to dance.
- Keeps us flexible: It is very good for coordination, flexibility and endurance. Increasing flexibility can help ease joint pain.
There are so many types of dancing that it is almost impossible to name them without missing a few. Here are the common ones found in our North American culture: ballroom dancing, line dancing, square dancing, round dancing, zumba, hip-hop, jazz, ballet, rock and roll, belly dancing, salsa. swing, and tap dancing.
There really is no right or wrong way to ‘shake a leg’. And there are no restrictions as to a person’s size or body shape, either. You can dance as a single person, or with a partner, or with a group of people. The only restriction could be an ‘all clear’ signal from your physician if you have really serious health issues that you need to consider. So don’t wait! Grab a partner, call up your friends and go out dancing! With all the amazing benefits dancing has to offer, you’ll be glad you did!
Are you interested in more ways to balance your health and live an energetic, healthy lifestyle? Contact me for a free Consultation today.
Copyright © 2014 Cathy Ormon – All Rights Reserved