And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music. – Friedrich Neitzsche
Dance is a magical thing. There is no greater expression of pure joy than just letting go and having your body move to the beat (or least try to, sadly, I am a bit rhythmically challenged). That’s why it comes with little surprise that the action of dancing can not only help you release stress and lose weight, but it can help connect with new friends and boost your most powerful muscle… your brain!
EverydayHealth.com has a great list of 9 amazing health benefits that the simple art of dance can bring into your life:
1. Increase Flexibility. Those plies and arabesques that ballet dancers practice aren’t just for aesthetics — they also increase flexibility and reduce stiffness. You can skip the ballet slippers and still reap the benefits of ballet by practicing some simple stretches at home. Increasing your flexibility will help ease joint pain and post-exercise soreness.
2. Boost Memory. Dance not only instills grace, but it also helps you age gracefully. According to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine, dancing may boost your memory and prevent you from developing dementia as you get older. Science reveals that aerobic exercise can reverse volume loss in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls memory. The hippocampus naturally shrinks during late adulthood, which often leads to impaired memory and sometimes dementia.
3. Reduce Stress. If you’re feeling tense or stressed out, you might want to grab a partner, turn up the music, and tango! In a controlled study in the Journal of Applied Gerontology, researchers found that partner dance and musical accompaniment can help bring about stress relief.
4. Diminish Depression. Dancing really does lift your spirits, according to a study that tested the effects of dancing on people with depression. Patients who participated in an upbeat group dance showed the fewest depression symptoms and the most vitality. Got the blues? Grab a friend and go out dancing tonight.
5. Help Your Heart. Dance is a great activity for those at risk for cardiovascular disease. People with heart failure who took up waltzing improved their heart health, breathing, and quality of life significantly compared to those who biked or walked on a treadmill for exercise, noted an Italian study.
6. Lose Weight. Bored with your bicycle? A study in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that an exercise program of aerobic dance training is just as helpful for losing weight and increasing aerobic power as cycling and jogging.
7. Balance Better. If you are nervous about falling as you get older, some dance lessons might help ease your worries, according to a study in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity that showed tango dancing can improve balance in aging adults. Dancing requires a lot of fast movement and good posture, so frequent dancing will help you stabilize and gain better control of your body.
8. Increase Energy. Can’t seem to find your get-up-and-go? Taking a dance class might help. Research published in The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition found that a weekly dance program could improve physical performance and increase energy levels among adults.
9. Make Friends. A dance class is the perfect setting to make new friends and branch out socially. Maintaining positive relationships may just rank up there with healthy eating and exercise. Being socially engaged leads to increased happiness, reduced stress, and a stronger immune system.
And lastly, I’ll leave you with this gem from the 80’s classic, Footloose: