There are two kinds of people in this world: those with two left feet and those who relish their time on public dance floors. Whichever category you fall into, literally anyone can dance, and you'd do well to dance joyfully and often—at least three to five times a week.
Embarrassed? Put down the blinds, put on a record or your most bopping Spotify playlist, and you'll soon feel the psychological and physiological benefits of getting your groove on. After all, humans have been dancing for tens of thousands of years for a good reason.
Whether you're dancing in sync with others or moving and grooving by yourself, dancing feels good. It's a mood booster like no other. Solo dancing is uninhibited and can put you in a fully-absorbed and rewarding state of flow.
Music also lowers cortisol levels linked to stress. Combine music and movement, and you can tackle anxiety and depression. Did you know that research shows people dealing with depression tend to do less vertical jumping and moving?
Hypertension has become a major modern medical issue, and dancing can lower blood pressure. It improves your cardiopulmonary function and circulation and increases aerobic capacity. Moderate to vigorous exercise, like you'd get doing ballroom dancing or aerobic dance classes, reduces the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
You'll often hear people say, "use it or lose it." When we do new activities that challenge the brain, we're able to stay sharp. Mastering fresh dances can thus improve memory and problem-solving skills.
Participating in mentally engaging activities gives the brain a chance to build new pathways via neuroplasticity, which can keep dementia at bay. But even if someone has dementia, the non-verbal dialogue in dancing allows individuals with memory loss to forge connections and communicate with fewer hurdles.
Dancing is a weight-bearing exercise, so it has numerous benefits for bone and muscle health. It can form new bone tissue and make bones more rigid. By working the glutes, hammies, calves, quads, and other muscle groups, dancing causes muscles to get stronger, and everyday activities become easier.
Studies show that dancing regularly for a few years improves static balance, which is all the more reason to start as soon as possible. Better balance and coordination can prevent falls and injuries, which can be debilitating in older adults. Dancing also improves reaction times, flexibility, and gait in golden old age.
Moderate physical activity increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. But that's not a bad thing! We need HDL cholesterol, or "good" cholesterol, to carry "bad" LDL cholesterol to the liver, where the latter gets flushed out and no longer threatens arteries. Combined with dietary changes, dancing can lower LDL levels in approximately a month.
Non-competitive dancing involves zero pressure to succeed and increases positive emotions. Regular sessions can foster confidence and lead to higher energy levels and a general sense of wellness. You may feel more motivated to take on challenges you've long been putting on the back burner.
Dancing could be the secret to feeling youthful at an advanced age. It reminds older folks of their younger days and is a means of staying connected to a culture and feeling a broader sense of belonging. Dancing can lead to better posture control and can keep older adults mobile for longer.
Ballroom dancing isn't as high-octane an exercise as, say, salsa. It counts as a moderate workout and burns about 260 calories during an hour-long class. Salsa, on the other hand, burns close to 500 calories in an hour.
Consistency is key, and with regular sessions, either form of dancing can lower the odds of obesity and related chronic diseases.
When you sign up for group dance classes or take lessons, you have to interact with other humans. In a world where loneliness is a significant risk factor for disease, any opportunity to make new friends is a boon. Dancing doesn't just involve chatting before and after a session, but, crucially, most dances involve touch.
Socially isolated people lack body contact, and the closeness fostered by social bonding releases oxytocin and reduces inflammation. Dancing with a partner also increases testosterone levels.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.