Dancing is one of our oldest forms of social bonding, exercise and mental stimulation. The health benefits of dance touch all these aspects of our lives. It’s popular among all age groups and people of varying physical abilities because of it’s the kind of exercise that is both accessible to beginners and offers virtually unlimited room for advancement.
The bodies of professional dancers are proof that it’s a great way to stay in shape. However, the other benefits take a little bit more digging to uncover. While it was probably quite obvious to our ancestors that shaking their tail feathers was healthy, we now understand the benefits of boogie to both the body and mind as never before.
Here are some of the incredible health benefits of dance:
Builds strength & flexibility
Dancing, whether it’s physically intense or slower and easier, is a great way to build strength and improve your muscle tone. Dance promotes a natural-looking figure with good proportions and definition. This is primarily because most types of dance require the use of the entire body and incorporate a wide range of movements. This also translates to well-rounded physical strength.
Unlike some other forms of exercise, the muscle you build while dancing does not inhibit flexibility. In fact, the same varied movements that promote balanced muscle growth also improve flexibility. Intense, high-risk dance styles obviously come with their own risk of injury but for the most part, dancing is a great way to build a resilient and durable body.
Improves fitness & aids in weight management
The physical benefits of dance don’t end with building strength and muscle. It’s also a fantastic way to improve cardiovascular fitness and endurance. The cardio aspect of dancing is especially beneficial to the heart and lungs. This means it’s a great way to prevent diseases related to these organs and improve your endurance in most types of physical activities.
One of the other health benefits of dance is that it’s a powerful tool for weight management. A combination of cardiovascular and muscular workouts is the most effective way to manage both your weight and your figure. Dance certainly ticks both of these boxes!
Strengthens bones & prevents osteoporosis
Dance, along with sports like gymnastics and basketball, is considered a highly osteogenic exercise. This means that it helps to increase bone mass and therefore avoid osteoporosis and other bone-related disorders. It does this by encouraging the formation of bone tissues, making your bones stronger and more rigid.
The movements associated with dance also strengthen the muscles that support the skeletal system. These skeletal muscles are attached to our bones and are responsible for controlling conscious movement.
Improves balance, coordination, spatial awareness and posture
When describing someone healthy, we naturally tend to focus on characteristics such as strength and endurance, but there are many less fashionable aspects of maintaining your general well-being that are equally worthy of consideration. Balance, coordination and spatial awareness all have to do with the ways we interact with our world. Improving them will thus improve these interactions. Day to day tasks are easier and life is generally a little bit safer for people who have a high degree of control over their bodies and good motor skills.
Improved posture is another one of the less obvious but just as important health benefits of dance. Having a good posture helps keep the spine in proper alignment and stops joints & bones from setting into abnormal positions. It also ensures that your muscles work efficiently and decreases damage to the surfaces of joints. This all translates to maximum energy efficiency, decreased fatigue and a body that is built to last.
Mental health benefits of dance
The health benefits of dance extend well beyond the body. Dancing regularly has been linked with improved mood and lower levels of anxiety and depression. Studies have also shown that dancing improves cognitive functioning in adults and children. There is also a theory that movement and intelligence are intrinsically linked. After all, what good is our supercomputer brain without a body that is able to execute the ideas it creates by moving through space in creative ways and manipulating the external world?
Dance is something that comes naturally to us, many people break into a little jig automatically in moments of high excitement. There are also activities such as ecstatic dance, where participants just let loose and dance without structure or in whatever way comes naturally to them. As the name suggests, this activity can whip people up into altered states of consciousness that can be extremely beneficial for mental health. Ultimately, dancing is both exercise and good old fashioned fun!