It’s hard not to be happy when you’re dancing. And, it turns out, when you “dip it low, pick it up slow, roll it all around, poke it out, let your back go,” you’re getting a pretty badass workout, too.
Why Is Dancing Amazing For You?
There is no better workout than dance. “You have to use every essence of your body to do it. Dancing is a full-body workout in the truest sense.”
It helps improve coordination, memorization, endurance, flexibility, and, most importantly, makes your heart happy.
The Physical Benefits Of Dance
If done regularly, dance can do wonders for your body. If dance is your only form of exercise, you’ll want to aim for about 30 minutes a day.
Better agility and flexibility
Age, lack of movement — or only performing the same movements — can lead to stiffness and a lack of mobility that primes you for discomfort and injury. But dance can help.
One study found that cross-country skiers who received months of dance training showed improvements in joint mobility and muscle flexibility of the spine and their speed and agility.
In a similar study, cross-country skiers who received pre-season dance training improved hip motion range, enhanced spine flexibility, and a reduced risk of back pain.
Despite the focus on cross-country skiing in these studies, you don’t need to hit the slopes to reap the agility and flexibility of getting down to the music.
Balance And Coordination
While you may feel pretty solid on your feet now, there’s no denying that balance and coordination seriously deteriorate as we age. It’s one of the reasons that older adults are so prone to falls.
However, the ability to dance to improve these health markers in older folks is promising.
One study on people over the age of 80 years found that social dancing helped improve balance and walking speed and contributed to a more stable walking pattern.
Enhanced Cardiovascular Health
Depending on how intensely you jump up, jump up, and get down, dance can serve as a hardcore workout that’s good for your heart.
Research has found that regular moderate-intensity dancing is associated with a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease. And this benefit is significantly more pronounced for dance than for walking.
Improved Muscle Tone And Strength
Many of our daily movements (walking, climbing stairs, etc.) occur in a straight plane. Dance, however, also throws in lateral and rotational movements. Your body is never bored.
This improves agility, coordination, and balance and strengthens muscles that often get left in the corner of the party, like your abdominals.
Weight Loss And Maintenance
Dance is a form of aerobic exercise (especially dancing to the point where you get nice and sweaty, as you would in a good hip-hop class). Aerobic exercise can support weight loss or maintenance.
Stronger Bones And Reduced Risk Of Osteoporosis
Dance is a form of weight-bearing exercise, which is the gold standard of exercise to improve bone mass. High-impact, weight-bearing exercises, such as certain dance forms, can help maintain bone strength and even build new bone mass. This slows the development and progression of osteoporosis.
Not all dance is high-impact, but even low-impact dancing can help maintain muscle and bone mass that typically declines with age.
It Can Be Gentle Or Intense — You Get to Decide
Dance can be whatever intensity you want it to be, depending on your mood, energy levels, and whether you have injuries.
The Cognitive (Brain-Boosting) Benefits Of Dance
Trouble concentrating? Brain fog?
Dance can be just the mental pick-me-up-and-fling-me-around-the-room you need. Visit here and know the amazing dance moves.
Boosts Learning, Memory, And All-Around Brain Power
Feeling mentally stuck or indecisive? Shake it out!
One study found that Zumba — the Latin dance-inspired workout — helped improve cognitive skills like visual recognition, decision-making, and mood.
Other research suggests that dance can help create new connections between brain regions involved in long-term memory and executive function. And some doctors have even recommended dance and dance-style workouts to assist in recovery after brain injury.
May Reduce Dementia Risk
Dance can help ward off more serious memory problems, too. This may be especially true for dancing in a group or with a partner.
One study found that out of 11 different types of exercise (including dance, swimming, golf, cycling, tennis, and others), dance was the only one associated with a lower risk of dementia for people in the study. Experts believe the benefit was due to social interaction and mental focus.
Another study from 2017 found that dance can increase the amount of white matter in the brain. White matter typically breaks down as a person ages, contributing to cognitive decline.
The Emotional (Feel-Good) Benefits Of Dance
Better mood + less stress
In a 2015 study examining people’s motivation for dancing, “mood enhancement” ranked top on the list. This could be because dance is expressive and allows you to escape or let loose in a usually out-of-bounds way in adulthood.
Various studies also suggest that dance therapy might reduce depression and psychological stress in people who have serious illnesses, such as breast cancer or Parkinson’s, and in students.
Research from 2014 also found that dance may help your body crank out feel-good endorphins (more than other forms of exercise) and reduce cortisol levels, leading to all-around good vibes.
Gives You A Chance To Socialize
Dance classes and dance-style workouts often take place in groups, which allows for social bonding in a (typically) really fun, light, and breezy environment. Depending on the specific style of dance you choose (say, salsa or swing dancing), you may even be paired up with a partner every week and become total BFFs.
Jumping on a treadmill or elliptical can be great exercise and involves running/walking on the spot ad infinitum. With dance, you’re getting a workout and mastering a new skill. This can be incredibly rewarding and improve confidence.
Research suggests that any form of exercise can boost self-esteem. But there’s just something about mastering new choreography or pulling off a new move that makes you feel ultra-ready to take on the world.
Dance can be an incredible workout that’s easily adaptable to suit your mood, fitness levels, and capabilities.
Beyond that — thanks to a combo of music and movement and gradual mastery of new skills — it’s an especially effective way to boost mood and feel like a total badass.
Remember, it doesn’t matter what you look like, and none of the benefits above actually require you to be a “good” dancer. So go blast some, get sweaty, and bask in the rush of those endorphins! Dancing like nobody’s watching has never been easier if you’re self-isolating.