Why dance? Dancing has been a connector and a stress-reliever for thousands of years. It’s an outlet for joy that’s good for your body and soul. Professional and social dancers have known this forever. Yet in the last 20 years, science has begun to take a close look at the health benefits of dancing, both physical and mental, with fascinating results.
Dancing Is Exercise
What dancers have always known–and the physical fitness community is discovering– is that dance is an excellent whole-body workout that can help you lose weight and tone muscles while having a blast.
- Dancing is an effective form of cardio exercise and usually burns between 300 and 500 calories per hour.
- Dancing works the muscles in ways other forms of exercise can’t match, boosting strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility.
- Dancing is a lifetime “sport” we can enjoy at any age.
- Dancing is fun, so it’s not a chore like some workouts. Dance classes are an exercise program you can stick with and look forward to.
Dancing Creates Social Connection
Dance classes and socials help us meet new people and build relationships. But dancing goes beyond your typical social gathering in its ability to create connections. Research shows that dance’s unique combination of movement and music makes it an even more powerful tool in forming bonds between people. Synchronizing movements and adding in musical beats increases the sense of rapport with others, according to a University of Oxford Study. Dancing offers a chance to connect with your partner if you have one and meet new people in a group setting. It builds confidence as you master skills, reducing anxiety and making social situations more comfortable. Dance classes are something students look forward to and help create friendships, whether they attend as singles or couples.
Dancing Boosts Mental Health
If you’ve ever experienced a rush of euphoria after an evening of dancing, you know first hand that dancing is good for the soul. Study after study has shown that dancing is a tool for boosting mental health and keeping the brain healthy. In the last decade, researchers have looked into the neurological effects of dance and discovered that the combination of physical movement, mental effort and social interaction are great for mental health.
An article published by the Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute calls dancing a “pleasure double play” that combines the stimulating effects of music and movement. According to Harvard, dancing plays a role in releasing our body’s happiness hormones that create a sense of well-being naturally.
Like many other sports, dancing releases endorphins–the natural euphoria hormones our body creates during physical activity. Studies also show that dance is linked to the production of oxytocin, another happiness hormone associated with social bonding, and dopamine, a hormone tied to feelings of joy and happiness. That’s powerful stuff.
There’s even evidence that dancing can reduce the risk of dementia and can be therapeutic for Parkinson’s Disease patients, according to the Harvard article. Learning dance steps and moving to music can improve cognitive skills and keep our brains active as we age. So many of us simply feel great after dancing– now science is showing us the precise reasons why.
Learning to Dance for Body, Mind, and Spirit
The physical and mental health benefits of dancing are connected to both performance and learning to dance, so you don’t have to be a professional ballerina to reap the rewards. Dance classes are the perfect combination of exercise and socialization–giving us a chance to meet new people, increase physical activity and boost mental stimulation and mood.
The instructors at Arthur Murray Dance Center in Ashburn understand our deeply rooted need to dance and can help students transform that craving for movement into a skill that benefits the body and mind. Dance works for all fitness and skill levels and all ages–youth, adults, and seniors. With so many benefits, there’s no reason to wait.