Dancing is an activity which has played a part in the lives of people across the centuries. As well as being enjoyable, dancing has health benefits. Dancing is a good form of exercise, reduces stress, encourages social interaction, increases energy and has benefits for the brain.
Image adapted from Pixabay
There are many different styles of dancing, some energetic and some slower. Some styles have a complicated routine of steps to learn. Other types let the dancer make up their own moves in time to the music. Some people become involved in competition dancing and others just do it for fun. It can be an an activity for couples, a group or an individual.
Dancing is good exercise Some types of dance are slow, others are more energetic. Dance that gets your heart pumping quickly provides a good aerobic workout. The more active the type of dancing, the more kilojoules (calories) a person will burn. On the other hand, slower forms of dancing are easier to perform for a longer session.
People of all ages and fitness levels can find a form of dancing that is suitable for them. Even people who use a wheelchair for mobility can participate in dancing in a modified form. They will benefit from enjoying the music, being involved in a group activity and moving any parts of the body they are able to.
Exercise from dancing improves muscle tone and strength. It has been found beneficial for people with Parkinson's Disease. Regular dancing sessions can help with weight management. Dancing improves a person's balance and strengthens bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
Dancing can be beneficial for older people Courtesy of Pixabay
Dancing reduces stress Dancing is helpful in reducing stress. When a person is dancing they are concentrating on moving their body rather than thinking about their problems. One study showed dancing can help control emotional eating in women who react to stress by eating.
It has been found dancing -
helps reduce depression and anxiety.
increases the release of serotonin, the feel good hormone
Increases energy Research conducted by the Mayo Clinic has found dancing regularly will make a person feel more energetic. It will also promote a general sense of well-being.
Encourages Social Interaction Many types of dance are done in pairs. This is beneficial for existing relationships and for those without a partner, can lead to new friendships.
Some popular types of dance such as folk dancing, line dancing and barn dancing involve a group of people. Dance can be incorporated in another activity such as theatre, increasing the amount of social interaction involved.
Folk dancing is a group activity Courtesy of Pixabay
Dance Helps The Brain When a person is dancing, blood is pumped to the brain, increasing the amount of oxygen. This helps her/him think more clearly. Remembering the series of steps in a dance is a good workout for the brain.
Dancing can help reduce the likelihood of developing dementia. Learning new dance routines keeps the brain active and the activity itself provides cardiovascular exercise at the same time. Research suggests dancing is more effective in protecting against dementia than activities such as puzzles, reading, cycling or playing golf.
A study into dementia by the Albert Einstein College of medicine was conducted over a 21 year period. The results found aging adults who were involved in dancing regularly were 76% less likely to develop dementia.
Safety tips Dancing has many health benefits but sensible precautions should be taken to maximise the benefits. These include -
See your doctor for a check-up if you have a medical condition, are overweight, are unfit or have any concerns about how the type of dancing you plan to do may impact your health
Wear appropriate clothing and well fitting suitable shoes
Do warm-up exercises at the start of a dance session.
Build up your stamina gradually, especially if you are doing a strenuous form of dance
Avoid straining or twisting your body.
Remember to drink water as you would with other forms of exercise, especially if the type of dancing is strenuous or the weather is hot.
Dancing has many health benefits and because there are so many types of dance most people should be able to find something suitable. It has been found people who take up dancing are more likely to stick with it than many other forms of exercise.