The Benefits of Dancing

The Benefits of Dancing

The Benefits of Dancing

Written By: SportsShoes

Dancing is one of the fastest-growing forms of exercise around the world, with people of all ages, genders and backgrounds joining the popular movement. It doesn’t matter whether you like Bollywood, salsa, hip-hop, or ballet; the health benefits are all equally great! 

Historically, dancing has often been considered a women's only sport and others simply view it as entertainment rather than a form of exercise. But, nothing could be further from the truth! Professional dancers are among the fittest people on earth. They need to acquire impressive levels of flexibility, strength, endurance, and resistance, and it is one of the hardest sports in the world. 

The good news is that dancing is very inclusive and can be practised regardless of experience, fitness or physique. The amount of dance varieties makes it an ideal activity in terms of diversity, and some of the variants are prescribed by health professionals to help with problems such as back injuries, among others. It’s also a beneficial form of exercise for runners, both physically and mentally. In a world where the internet and the gradual disappearance of communal societies have greatly complicated the possibility to meet new people and socialise in big groups, social dancing is experiencing a rapid increase in popularity. Dancing is a holistic form of exercise which gathers together different sensations, lifts the mood, and makes you really feel alive!

Continue reading to find out why you should give dancing a try!

    benefits-of-dancing

    Pictured: Carmen Orea dancing. Photo by Inés Paris Arranz.

    Dancing is good for your mental health

    There are several reasons why dancing has a positive effect on mental health. One of them is the omnipresence of music in all aspects of dancing, which has been proved to regulate cortisol levels, responsible for the appearance of anxiety and other mood disorders [1]. Most types of dancing also include a social element, which will contribute to the feeling of community and belonging, all essential for good mental health. Latin and ballroom dancing involve dancing with a partner and, although that can be awkward at the beginning, it is prescribed to people who struggle with social interaction. In some ballroom and Latin classes there is a change of partners every three minutes when you are practising the steps, so you will not have to think of a lot of conversation to make! Dancing, where several people vibrate to the same rhythm and feel the same feelings that the music transmits, builds incredible connections that can bring you friends for life. It is a sport that can be practised both inside and outside, so the winter months blues won’t be a problem. 

    Dancing burns calories

    As explained in this article by SportsShoes, some forms of dancing, especially those based on aerobics like HIIT dancing, are very much like an interval training in running. That means they combine anaerobic and aerobic exercise, which is great for burning calories and losing weight if that is your goal. Remember, though, that the aim of exercise should not be your physical appearance but a more holistic approach to wellbeing. There is no doubt that dancing to a maximal intensity for around 5 minutes and then resting or lowering the rhythm for some time is a form of intermittent training, a form of exercise that maximises metabolic efficiency and, according to science, provides higher levels of enjoyment! [2] This will also make it more likely that you stick to it.

    Dancing improves your posture

    A strong posture is essential in dancing; it is one of the first things taught at ballet classes. Without the right posture, there is no dancing at all. In classes such as salsa, it also comes naturally: one of the aspects in which you have to be coordinated with your partner is posture, unless you want to get smacked in the head during a spin. If you have already tried dancing, you might know that without the adequate posture – or, as it is more precisely called, “good alignment” – some movements just won’t work. Dancing will turn good posture into a habit that you will take with you everywhere you go, even if you are only a social dancer, as this study [3] has demonstrated. Science has also determined that a good posture is essential for good health, including good blood circulation and good digestion [4], and it also lowers the risk of falling in older adults or people who suffer from diseases such as Parkison’s, to whom dancing is recommended [5]. Dancing will combine all of the factors that you need for improving a bad posture: habit making, lower back flexibility, and leg muscle strength! What are you waiting for, then?

    Your self-esteem will increase!

    Practice makes perfection and being able to perform a choreography with high technical skill and grace will no doubt increase your self-esteem. You will also be able to put what you have learnt into practice in the club and become the dancing queen of the night. Some dance classes do not use mirrors so as to avoid being too self-conscious and being able to dance with no sense of shame, not thinking about how you look but about how you feel. Furthermore, dancing clothes are great! They are often colourful, fun, and flattering so that your choice of clothing matches your mood and energy! At SportsShoes we gather a great range of fitness clothing from the best brands.

    CLICK HERE TO SEE THE ENTIRE COLLECTION

    Benefits-of-dancing

    Pictured: Mónica Fernández dancing. Photo by Inés Paris Arranz.

    Dancing is good for flexibility (great for runners!)

    Styles like ballet, jazz or contemporary dance require good levels of flexibility, very demanding ones in some cases! I am sure we have all seen the insane level of flexibility that some ballerinas boast. Through the practice of dancing, even in those cases where the practised variant is not as demanding as professional ballet or when you only do some social dancing, leg flexibility is improving [6]. Enhancing the flexibility of your legs will be extremely beneficial if you are a runner, as you might often find yourself struggling with stiff limbs. An increased leg flexibility will help with recovery and prevent getting injured, so… why don’t you try dancing on your rest days? Other studies [7] say that extreme flexibility might lower your performance, but we are all aware that a couple of social dancing classes per week won’t turn you into a ballerina…

    benefits-of-dancing

    Pictured: Carmen Orea dancing. Photo by Inés Paris Arranz.

    Dancing improves brain function

    Mens sana in corpore sano, or so the Latin verse says. Many of us will be familiar with the feeling that it is utterly impossible to find time to comply with all of our social and professional responsibilities and, on top of that, fulfil the recommended daily dose of intellectual and physical exercise. Well… I bring you good news! Dancing involves coordination, which has proved to stimulate the cerebellum [8], while also being a form of aerobic exercise, which, apart from being good for your fitness, has also been associated with an improved brain function [9]. Coordination is one of the most challenging bits of dancing for some people, but it is worth going past the embarrassment of the first lessons, when you spend the whole hour apologising for stepping on your partner’s feet. Like most things in life, mastering coordination takes practice and, compared to spending an evening doing sudokus, I would not think twice, let’s get to the dance floor!

    References:

    1 https://www.essex.ac.uk/blog/posts/2021/06/09/the-benefits-of-music-and-dance-for-health

    2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8294064/

    3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0966636207002378

    4. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/23267224.1926.10651651

    5. https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/japa/29/1/article-p130.xml

    6.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9967954/#:~:text=There%20are%20many%20physical%20benefits,flexibility%20of%20the%20lower%20part

    7.https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/they-say-runners-need-flexibility-but-you-may-be-surprised-at-the-latest-thinking/2017/02/24/10954520-f9f4-11e6-9845-576c69081518_story.html

    8.https://hms.harvard.edu/news-events/publications-archive/brain/dancing-brain#:~:text=Stimulating%20movement&text=Studies%20using%20PET%20imaging%20have,%2C%20basal%20ganglia%2C%20and%20cerebellum

    9.https://theconversation.com/kick-up-your-heels-ballroom-dancing-offers-benefits-to-the-aging-brain-and-could-help-stave-off-dementia-194969#:~:text=The%20big%20idea,of%20Aging%20and%20Physical%20Activity.





     


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