THERE is something about grooving to the sound of music that seems to take all of our cares away.
Maybe it is the rhythm of your favourite tunes or the heart-pumping work-out that gets you up and off the couch.
Or perhaps it’s the challenge of mastering the more complicated moves that brings you so much joy.
Regardless of your reasons, one thing’s for sure: The physical, mental, and emotional health benefits of dancing are endless.
Benefits of dancing
Whether you are 80 years young or eight years old, engaging in physical activities that involve dancing changes you.
From better physical and mental health to a boost in emotional and social well-being, moving your body to the sound of music can transform your life.
Dance is exercise, so the physical benefits of dancing will be similar to those of other cardio activities.
1. Improves cardiovascular health
Adults should do:
· at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise, or
· 75 minutes to 150 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity.
All styles of dance make for great cardio workouts since your heart rate gets challenged from executing the different moves.
2. Improves balance and strength
Dance is such a great form of physical activity because it incorporates movements from all directions.
Movements that we typically do in our daily life, like walking, taking the stairs, and common work-outs like treadmills and cycling, occur in the sagittal plane, but dance works your body from all planes, including lateral and rotational, which turns on and conditions all muscles, meaning no muscle is left behind.
This type of movement not only increases strength, it also improves balance.
3. Gentle on your body
Many forms of dancing, such as ballroom, are appropriate for people with limited mobility or chronic health issues.
If you have concerns about the intensity of a class, talk with your doctor and the instructor before starting the class. They can help you with any modifications, if needed.
4. Boosts cognitive performance
If you need a reason to get moving, consider this: A lot of research shows how dancing can maintain and even boost your ability to think as you age.
But how does this happen?
Well, according to some studies, scientists have found out that the areas of the brain that control memory and skills, such as planning and organizing, improve with exercise like dancing.
Plus, unlike other forms of exercise, dancing has the additional benefits of improving balance through rhythm and music.
5. Challenges your brain
If you have ever tried tap dancing, then you know exactly what we mean by dancing challenges your brain.
The brain power you need to access for dance, specifically, requires you to focus on both the constant changing of movement and recalling moves and patterns.
This is an excellent form of mental exercise for your mind, regardless of your age.
6. Dancing is inclusive
One of the greatest things about dancing is that anyone can participate.
If you are able to move, even if it’s only your upper body, you can dance.
This equaliser is what makes dance so popular with people who typically shy away from other forms of exercise.
7. Can be a social activity
While you may prefer to bust a move when no one is watching, there’s something incredible about dancing with others.
Whether you join a ballroom or belly dancing class, dance with friends, or get shaking with your kids or grandkids, being around other people while dancing is good for your social and emotional health.
8. Helps boost your mood
Movement and dance are extremely expressive, which can allow you to escape and let loose.
It’s this “letting loose” that helps your mental and emotional health by reducing stress, decreasing the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and boosting your self-esteem.
Benefits for kids
Movement and rhythm comes naturally to kids, and when you get a child involved in regular dance classes, the benefits only get better.
Not only does dance allow kids to get their energy out, it’s also a great (and often safe) way for them to express themselves.
Dance training also teaches kids that diligent work pays off.
If they continue to put in effort in class, they will literally see results in the mirror.
It’s such a concrete way for children to see that observing their actions and listening to guidance from teachers, combined with hard work, leads to positive results.
Dance also helps kids learn discipline, because they have to memorise and execute specific steps and body movements that require practice and perseverance.
How to get started with dancing
While dancing is as easy as turning on some tunes and moving around your living room, there are some more formal ways to learn different styles of dance and dance technique.
Here are some ways to get started with dance.
Choose the style of dance that interests you the most
The first step is to choose a style or two that you’re most excited to learn.
Then, do some research on those styles to find out the best way to learn the methods and techniques.
Take a class at a dance studio
If you are ready for formal instruction, then starting at a dance studio is your best option.
Most studios have classes ranging from intro to advanced.
Choose the style you want to try and sign up for an intro or beginner class.
If you’re not sure where to start, talk with the studio owner or instructor of the classes you are interested in.
Take a class at a fitness facility
Many gyms and boutique fitness studios offer dance-related classes, such as:
· Cardio dance
Watch videos online
There are several formal programmes online that will take you through the sequence of dance.
Check out YouTube
Beyond the more formal videos you can find online, YouTube is also home to some great clips and tips about dancing that are also free.
If you can, project the videos up on your TV and follow along.
The bottom line
The benefits of dancing encompass all areas of health, including physical, mental, and emotional.
Not only does it give you a way to express yourself and have fun, but it also counts toward your cardiovascular exercise minutes for the week.
So, grab a friend, join a beginner or intro class, and get moving!