Dancing is a total experience that benefits you physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. In this post, we’ll look at each of these areas and how dancing can improve your well-being. Anyone can dance (you don’t have to be a pro) and it’s free! So, keep reading to learn more about the power of dance.
Physical Health & Dance
Dancing is a fun way to increase your physical activity. It can be perceived as less of a chore than more traditional forms of exercise.
I’m not one to go to the gym, so I find dancing to be a great way to get my heart pumping. The aerobic part of dance improves the strength and efficiency of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. By reducing excess body fat, it can also help lower the risk of developing cancer, diabetes and heart disease (Ward, 2008).
Dancing also improves muscular strength and endurance. This leads to greater flexibility, range of motion, balance, better posture, and coordination in daily living (Ward, 2008). I also find that through dance, I’m much more aware of my body. It forces me to be physically present (as I can be prone to getting lost in my thoughts).
Dancing can act as a painkiller too. As with any form of physical exercise, it helps ease chronic pain associated with arthritis. In fact, it’s considered a key part of arthritis management (Ward, 2008).
The lymphatic system also benefits for dance movements. This system drains toxic debris (i.e. bacteria, etc.) out of body tissues. It has no pumping mechanism of its own, so requires skeletal muscle contractions to move lymph fluid throughout the body. What better way to get things pumping than through dance? In this way, you can say dancing is a natural way to detox.
Mental Health & Dance
Dancing can improve brain health. Benefits range from better memory to stronger neural connections (Edwards, 2017).
Research studies show that dance movement improves serotonin concentrations (the feel-good hormone) in the brain (Edwards, 2017). So, if you’re feeling bummed out or stressed, give yourself a 5-minute dance break. Allow yourself to be silly to break the tension. No one has to be watching. If I’m out some place where it may not be appropriate to dance, but I have the urge to, I’ve been known to go into a public washroom and do a mini dance. It feels silly and makes me laugh. Then I’m instantly in a better mood. One study found that regular dancing decreased anxiety among college students within a period of less than 3 months (Quirog
Researchers are also finding that dancing reduces the risk of developing dementia in the elderly. It appears the brain is stimulated in a particular way that involves both mental effort and social interaction. This is why they think dancing lowers dementia risk (Edwards, 2017).
Positive effects are also being reported in Parkinson’s disease patients. Dance therapy is even being used as a treatment for this progressive neurological movement disorder in some wellness programs (Edwards, 2017).
Social Health & Dance
With dancing, you can develop better social relations with other people. If you attend a dance class, it can be a great way to make new friends.
Also, coordinating movements in time with others is proven to be a fundamental mechanism for strengthening social bonds (Quiroga, 2010).
Spiritual Health & Dance
Dancing restores your sense of aliveness and provides you with an outlet where you can let go. It’s freeing and gets your energy flowing. It can even be a form of meditation because, as you get into it, you can still your thoughts and be fully in the present moment.
Dancing puts you in a state of pure joy. Giving you direct connection with Divine energy. In this way, dancing is a spiritual practice.
Tips to Get You Dancing
I’m big on dancing when the mood strikes (as evidenced by my aforementioned public washroom dance party!), but you can also set aside a regular time to make it a habit. This could mean joining a formal dance class or even making it part of your daily morning or bedtime routine. If you have kids, have them join in on the fun with you.
Dancing alone is totally okay if you feel uncomfortable dancing in front of others. You can try dancing in front of your pets to begin increasing your comfort level.
Remember to relax any tension in your face, neck, belly, etc.
Don’t be afraid to exaggerate your movements. Be spontaneous and silly with it – like when you were a kid!
Move freely to the natural inclinations of your body, instead of your head. You don’t need to think about it. Use this time to shut off your (likely overworked) brain.
If it feels good, try planting your feet firm on the ground and sway the rest of your body. No fancy dance moves required.
Most importantly, enjoy the experience and the music. Just go with the flow!
I’ll end with a small confession – I did a dance while writing this blog post. There was a great song on the radio and I had to get up and move. :)
Leave a comment below and share your thoughts on what dancing means to you. I’m interested in hearing if you’ve experienced any improvements in your life because of dancing. You can also send me a direct message at email@example.com or via Facebook (@HolisticMilka) or Twitter (@holistic_milka).
Edwards, Scott. “Dancing and the Brain.” On The Brain: The Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute Letter. 2017. <http://neuro.hms.harvard.edu/harvard-mahoney-neuroscience-institute/brain-newsletter/and-brain-series/dancing-and-brain>.
Quiroga Murcia, Cynthia, et al. “Shall we dance? An Exploration of the Perceived Benefits of Dancing on Well-Being.” Arts & Health 2, no. 2 (2010): 149-163. <http://www.academia.edu/10013869/Shall_we_dance_An_exploration_of_the_perceived_benefits_of_dancing_on_well-being>.
Ward, Sheila A. “Health and the Power of Dance.” Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 79, no. 4 (2008): 33-36. <https://healthliteracydancegrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/healthandthepowerofdanceward2014.pdf>.