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January 23, 2018

Five ways dancing improves our health

Dance Wellness

Content sponsored by IBC - Native (195x33)

26-072516_Xponential_Carroll IBX article Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Festival-goers dance as rain begins to fall.

At one point or another, you’ve probably experienced the healing power of dance. Whether out with friends, in a dance class, or at home on your own, moving to music can foster a sense of joy and release. Like other forms of exercise, dancing offers significant physical and mental health benefits. So, the next time your favorite song comes on, get up and revel in all of the ways dancing is great for your health:

1. Improved mood

It probably comes as no surprise that something so enjoyable can have such a big impact on your health. As a way to take a “time out” from the constraints of your daily routine, recreational dancing provides a mental respite that not only increases energy levels, but decreases tension and stress. Not to mention, rhythmic movements release the same kind of mood-boosting endorphins produced while running.

2. Increased memory

Dance plays a role in memory function, particularly for the elderly. A study among older adults found that dance improves the brain's white matter, the wiring that promotes processing speed and memory. The dancers in the study, as opposed to those who performed other exercises, showed an increase in white matter, which naturally breaks down with age.

3. Weight loss

Any body movement burns calories, and dance — coupled with the right diet — can certainly help you attain your weight loss goals. Vigorous dancing that gets your heart rate up is similar to the calorie-burning effects of jogging. The best part? There’s no gym membership required. You can dance anywhere, at any time, and with zero equipment.

4. Self-confidence and social connections

Dance is so therapeutic that even therapists prescribe it as a remedy for social anxiety and low self-esteem. The simple act of dancing encourages you to open up and release your inhibitions, which can have an invaluable impact on self-confidence. Not only that, dancing in public encourages social bonding and connection, as moving in rhythm with someone else lights up pathways in the brain that break down the barriers your mind creates between yourself and a stranger.

5. Lowered risk of heart disease

Dancing not only makes you feel happy, it makes your heart happy. A decade-long study found that people over 40 who dance may lower their risk of cardiovascular death by 46 percent. Paired with social interaction, high-intensity dancing can provide stress relief and lower blood pressure, positively affecting the heart. This “exercise in disguise” is particularly wonderful because it doesn’t matter what style of dance you choose — working up a sweat will ultimately benefit your heart and help you reap the many benefits of staying physically fit.

The best part about dancing is its universal appeal. Anyone can participate and feel its joyful effects. Whether you opt to join a class or simply enjoy dancing on your own, this activity will benefit both your physical and mental well-being.


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