How can dance improve your health
Dance - health benefits - Better Health Channel
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SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- Dancing can be a way to stay fit for people of all ages, shapes and sizes.
- Dancing can improve your muscle tone, strength, endurance and fitness.
- Dancing is a great way to meet new friends.
- See your doctor for a check-up if you have a medical condition, are overweight, are over 40 years of age or are unfit.
There are many forms of dance, from ballroom to barn dancing and disco to Morris dancing.
Dance has always been a part of human culture, rituals and celebrations. Today, most dancing is about recreation and self-expression, although it can also be done as a competitive activity.
Dancing is an enjoyable way to be more physically active and stay fit.
Health benefits of dancing
Dancing can be a way to stay fit for people of all ages, shapes and sizes. It has a wide range of physical and mental benefits including:
- improved condition of your heart and lungs
- increased muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness
- increased aerobic fitness
- improved muscle tone and strength
- weight management
- stronger bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis
- better coordination, agility and flexibility
- improved balance and spatial awareness
- increased physical confidence
- improved mental functioning
- improved general and psychological wellbeing
- greater self-confidence and self-esteem
- better social skills.
Getting started with dancing
You can dance in a group, with a partner, or on your own.
There are lots of different places where you can enjoy dancing, for example, at dance schools, social venues, community halls and in your own home. Dancing has become such a popular way to be active and keep fit, that most fitness clubs now offer dance classes in their group exercise programs.
Dancing can be done both competitively and socially. It can be a great recreational and sporting choice, because anyone of any age can take part. It doesn’t matter whether it is cold or raining, as dancing is usually done indoors.
The gear you need for dancing will depend on the style of dancing you choose. For example, tap dancing will involve buying tap shoes, however many forms of dance do not need special equipment or footwear.
To get started, simply choose a style you enjoy, or would like to try, look online for dance schools in your local area and join a class.
Types of dance
There are many styles of dance to choose from, each with its own attractions. Popular styles of dancing include:
- Ballet – mostly performed to classical music, this dance style focuses on strength, technique and flexibility.
- Ballroom dancing – this involves a number of partner-dancing styles such as the waltz, swing, foxtrot, rumba and tango.
- Belly dancing – originating in the Middle East, this dance style is a fun way to exercise.
- Hip-hop – performed mostly to hip-hop music, this urban dance style can involve breaking, popping, locking and freestyling.
- Jazz – a high-energy dance style involving kicks, leaps and turns to the beat of the music.
- Pole dancing – has become increasingly popular as a form of exercise. It involves dancing with a vertical pole, and requires muscle endurance, coordination, and upper- and lower-body strength.
- Salsa – involving a mixture of Caribbean, Latin American and African influences, salsa is usually a partner dance and emphasises rhythms and sensuality.
- Square-dancing – a type of folk dancing where 4 couples dance in a square pattern, moving around each other and changing partners.
- Tap dancing – focuses on timing and beats. The name originates from the tapping sounds made when the small metal plates on the dancer’s shoes touch the ground.
Choosing a dance style
When choosing a dance style, ask yourself questions such as:
- Do I want to dance to improve my fitness?
- Am I trying to improve my flexibility and coordination?
- Do I prefer fast dancing or slow dancing?
- Do I want to dance with a partner, or on my own?
- Do I want to join a group, or have private lessons?
- Will I enjoy competitions, or do I want to dance just for fun?
General tips for dancing
If you are thinking of taking up dancing, suggestions include:
- See your doctor for a check-up if you have a medical condition, are overweight, are over 40 years of age or are unfit.
- Wear layers of clothing that you can take off as your body warms up.
- Do warm-up activities before you begin a dance session.
- Drink plenty of water before, during and after dancing.
- Make sure you rest between dance sessions.
- Don’t push yourself too far or too fast, especially if you are a beginner.
- Wear professionally fitted shoes appropriate to your style of dance.
- Check with your dance instructor that you are holding the correct form.
- Sit and watch new dance moves first. Learning new moves increases your risk of injury, especially if you are already tired.
- Perform regular leg-strengthening exercises.
- Move as fluidly and gracefully as you can.
- Cool down after a dance session, including stretching.
Where to get help
- Your GP (doctor)
- Victorian Square Dancing Association Tel. 1800 643 277
- DanceSport Victoria – ballroom and competitive dancing
- Victorian Line Dance Association
- Get Active Victoria
- Sports Medicine Australia Tel. 1300 711 211
- Fong Yan A, Cobley S, Chan CL et al. 2018, ‘The effectiveness of dance interventions on physical health outcomes compared to other forms of physical activity: A systematic review and meta-analysis’, Sports Medicine, no. 48, pp, 933–951.
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Reviewed on: 25-05-2022
9 Ways Dancing Is Good for Your Health
Dancing can be many things: An expression of art, a fun hobby, a representation of culture, and a great form of exercise.
“Dancing is the ultimate workout,” says Julie Granger, a Paris-based International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) personal trainer and founder and creator of The Studio Paris and Ballerina Body Training. Not only does dancing involve engaging all of your muscles and limbs, it also gets your heart pumping. Plus, dancing can be a whole lot of fun.
A workout you can look forward to? Sign us up.
The style of dance you do will influence how intense of a workout it is, but pretty much any style of dance can be a workout. Granger, who is also a former professional ballerina, says choose a type of dance according to your favorite tunes. You can sign up for a class at your local gym or studio, take one virtually, or hit the town. “No matter which you choose, and even if it is just dancing at the club on Saturday night, you will get benefits,” she says.
So, what are the specific health benefits of busting a move? Some are the health benefits that come with any type of exercise; others are unique to dance.
Here are some research-backed ways dancing can improve your health.
1. Dance Boosts Cardiovascular Health
Like other aerobic exercise, dancing is great for improving cardiovascular function. A study published in 2016 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that people who engaged in moderate-intensity dancing (defined in the study as enough to make you out of breath or sweaty) were 46 percent less likely to develop heart disease or die from it than nondancers over 10 years of follow-up, according to population-based survey data of adults ages 40 and up. In comparison, moderate-intensity walkers were just 25 percent less likely to suffer heart health issues.
The study also notes the social aspect of dancing, and the relaxation that comes with it (more on this below), could be partly responsible for its health benefits.
2. Dancing Builds Core Strength
Dance requires balance and helps build core strength, which helps promote good posture and prevent muscle injuries and back pain, according to Mayo Clinic.
Granger adds that this is particularly true for ballet. “In ballet, you train your body to stand still, often on one leg. This helps you train the deep muscles in your body, which you would not work otherwise,” she says. You are also engaging your abs, “which are an essential part to balancing,” she notes.
3. Dance Promotes Flexibility
In addition to building strength, many forms of dance stretch the limbs of the body, which improves flexibility, says Elizabeth C Gardner, MD, an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon at Yale Medicine and associate professor at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. “Both of these (improved strength and flexibility) contribute to improved balance, which can help to avoid falls and reduce the risk of injury in other aspects of life,” she explains.
This is especially true for ballet dancers. “Ballet training involves a great deal of flexibility training. Flexibility means improved mobility, which means that any type of daily activity will be more enjoyable, whether you take yoga or you are trying to reach for the top cabinet in your kitchen,” says Granger.
4. Dance Can Help With Weight Loss
Dancing is also a form of both aerobic and anaerobic exercise, which is a great calorie burner, Dr. Gardner says. “Jumping and twirling movements are great aerobic training, while holding positions of squatting and balance positions can turn on the anaerobic energy system,” she explains.
In general, the more up-tempo the dance style, the more calories and energy will be burned.
Depending on the style of dance and your bodyweight, 30 minutes of dancing can burn between 90 and 252 calories, according to Harvard Medical School. This type of high-intensity calorie burning can help support weight loss if you’re trying to shed pounds. If you want to maximize calorie burn, Granger suggests taking a dance cardio class, designed to blast calories and improve physical fitness.
5. Dancing Is Good for Bone Health
“As a form of weight-bearing activity, unlike a stationary bike or swimming, dancing can help to maintain bone density,” says Gardner. Per the National Osteoporosis Foundation, high-impact and weight-bearing exercises, including some forms of dance, help you effectively maintain and even build new bone mass.
Some research suggests for older adults with osteoporosis, dancing can help reverse some of the damage of that chronic condition. Other research in children suggests that those who took ballet had better bone mineral content after a three-year period compared with children who didn’t do ballet.
6. Dancing May Help Prevent Memory Loss
Dance often requires learning moves and routines (choreography).
“There’s actually some very good evidence that social dancing can reduce the risk of cognitive decline as we get older,” says Carolyn Fredericks, MD, a neurologist at Yale Medicine, citing a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine involving 469 people over the age of 75. Out of all the physical activities, including walking, bicycling, stair climbing, swimming, and group exercise classes, dancing was the only activity associated with a lower risk of dementia.
“We always recommend that older adults seek out cardiovascular exercise and social engagement, and cognitive challenge — social dancing gets all three of these,” Dr. Fredericks says.
7. Dance Is Good for Mental Health
Research shows that dance can help decrease anxiety, increase self-esteem, and improve psychological well-being.
And certain types of dance have even been used as treatment for depression. Research published in 2019 in Frontiers in Psychology found that dance movement therapy (DMT) — defined by the American Dance Therapy Association as the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration of the individual, for the purpose of improving health and well-being — was effective in treating depression.
8. Dance Can Help Bust Stress
If you’ve had a tough day, have you ever cranked up your favorite tunes and busted a move to blow off some steam? Any type of movement can help bust stress, according to Mayo Clinic. But dance may be particularly good for doing this.
Research published in The International Journal on the Biology of Stress, for example, found that DMT also impacted the cortisol awakening response, a marker of chronic stress, while high intensity aerobic activity did not.
9. Dance Can Help Us Feel More Socially Connected
Social connectedness and interaction is a really important part of mental and physical health. Much research shows that feeling lonely or socially isolated can have myriad negative health effects.
“Dancing is sharing, and when you take class surrounded by other people, you know you all have something in common. You are not here to compete, you are here to enjoy, and there is an amazing feeling that comes with that,” Granger says. “Go take a class, and feel the energy of the room.”
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Health benefits of dancing
From physical health to social well-being, dance has the power to change your life.
Master1305 / Freepik
Agree, there is something special in music that can take away all our worries. Maybe it's the beat of your favorite tunes, or a mind-blowing workout that gets you off the couch. Or perhaps it's the challenge of mastering more complex movements that brings you so much joy. Regardless of the reasons, one thing is certain: the physical, mental, and emotional health benefits of dancing are endless.
Whether you're 80 or eight years old, the physical challenges of dancing can change anyone. Here we will talk about the main health benefits of moving to music.
Dancing is an exercise, so the physical benefits of dancing will be the same as other cardio workouts.
1. Improves cardiovascular health. The US Department of Health recommends that adults do 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise. Almost any dance style can help you meet these norms - this is an excellent cardio workout.
2. Improves balance and strength. One of the reasons why dance is a good option for improving physical fitness is that it includes movements in all planes and in all directions. Everyday walking, climbing stairs, cycling take place in the sagittal plane, but dance makes the body act in a much more varied way, involving all the muscles. It also improves the sense of balance.
3. Gentle on your body. Many styles of dance, such as ballroom dancing, are suitable for people with physical disabilities or chronic health problems. If you are concerned about the intensity of the class, talk to your doctor and instructor before starting the class. If necessary, they can help you with adjustments.
( Read also: 4 facts about how music affects our health)
4. Increases cognitive abilities. If you need a reason to move, consider this: Many studies show that dancing can maintain and even increase your ability to think as you age. But how does it happen? Scientists have found that areas of the brain that control memory and cognitive skills (planning and organization) improve their performance with exercise, such as dancing. Also, unlike other forms of exercise, dance has the added benefit of improving balance through rhythm and music.
5. Challenges your brain. If you've ever tried tap dancing, you know exactly what we mean by brain-challenging dance. In particular, the mental ability you need to dance requires you to focus on both constantly changing movements and memorizing movements and patterns. This is a great exercise for the mind, regardless of age.
( Read also: 9 ways pets affect our health.)
6. Universality. One of the greatest virtues of dance is that everyone can participate in it. If you can move, even if it's just the upper body, you can dance. This makes the dance so popular among people who usually avoid other forms of exercise.
7. May be social activities. While some may prefer to dance when no one is watching, there is something incredible about dancing with others. Whether you're joining a ballroom or hip-hop class, dancing with friends, or jumping with your kids or grandchildren, being around other people while dancing is good for your social and emotional health.
8. Helps improve mood. The movement and dance are extremely expressive, making you feel relaxed. It is this “release” that helps improve mental and emotional health by reducing stress, anxiety symptoms, and boosting self-esteem.
( Read also: How laughter affects our health: 5 reasons to laugh more often. )
Benefits of dancing. How does dancing affect women's health and sexuality?
Knowing yourself through dance
Dance is a state of mind, a way of self-expression and manifestation of mood. And if in sports the mood can interfere with the achievement of the goal, then in the dance any mood is embodied in movement.
Unlike sports, where the arms, legs and shoulder girdle are mainly involved, the muscles of the abdomen, hips, feet, hands, neck and face are also involved in the dance, which gives a greater scope for self-expression and harmonious strengthening of the whole body.
Here, unless we are talking about professional dances, there is no focus on results and there is no restriction in movements. You can let go of yourself and be in touch with your body, mood and state of mind. It can be said that dance captures and combines movements, emotions and state of mind.
It is through dance that a woman discovers herself and the world. The plasticity of movements allows you to reveal the true female nature and abilities of your emotional and spiritual world, which is impossible to do in sports or in everyday life.
Dance allows you to improve the qualities of character by training various muscle groups. The movement of the legs enhances the feeling of support (I am confident on my feet, I can push off from a reliable support and achieve my goal), which contributes to the development of purposefulness and self-confidence.
Through the movements of the pelvic area, the most common in oriental, Arabic, African American dances, we release the tension that has accumulated in the muscles that support the female organs. As a result, the relieved tension turns into sexual energy. Along with sexuality, mood improves, activity and vigor increase.
Movements of the arms, shoulders, fingers, characteristic of Arabic, Indian and Spanish dances, improve our interpersonal skills.
By developing arms and shoulders in the dance, we feel our body in space better, which means we can better find our place in a group of other people. In addition, the hands are responsible for attracting the right people to us and repelling those with whom we are not comfortable.
Through the muscles of the face , which are not involved in sports, a woman in dance can show spiritual emotionality. This is very important, because by nature women are more expansive creatures, and, unlike men, they need to express their emotions more often, and here dance has an advantage over sports.
The world is accelerating, the essence of a woman is changing along with it, and incendiary Latin American, African and Arabic belly dances, in which all muscle groups are involved, are perfect to throw out the resulting muscle tension. But, unlike sports, which also relieve muscle tension, the process of relaxation in dance occurs through the smooth movements inherent in female nature, and not through the sharp masculine ones that prevail in fitness. Energetic dancing is the best fit for today's rhythm of life of a modern woman.
While exercising, you can quickly lose weight, but even while dancing, it is possible to achieve such an effect in a short time if you give all your best and breathe correctly. Breathing has a very strong influence on fat burning, in fact, it depends on it how the female figure will be formed. And here, Latin American, African American and Arabic dances have advantages over waltz and folk dances, which quickly reduce weight, especially if proper breathing is used during classes.
In most sports, you can get injured even if you follow your coach's instructions exactly. In dancing, the risk of harming your health is reduced to zero, of course, if you do not take into account street dances with hard-to-perform acrobatic stunts. But even in ordinary dances, one must be able to properly dose the load so as not to stretch the muscles and damage the ligaments.
Which dances to choose
If you are over 40 and have problems with your spine, then you should give preference to calmer dances, such as waltz, tango, slow foxtrot. Because oriental or Latin American dance classes with a heavy load can aggravate the disease.
In general, if a woman has never been involved in sports, it is best to start increasing physical activity with dancing. They allow you to solve health problems and have a preventive effect. For example, Arabic belly dancing is a good prevention of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). They also increase blood circulation in the pelvic area, which prevents the occurrence of female inflammatory processes and formations associated with fibroids and endometriosis.
Any dance improves mood, which means that hormones of joy appear, which has a positive effect on the immune system. People who go in for dancing, during periods of epidemics of colds, get sick less often and recover faster.
The influence of dancing on interpersonal relationships with others can hardly be overestimated. After all, dancing improves mood, which always has a positive effect on relationships with others. While dancing, we listen to ourselves, our body and can better feel our partner. While enjoying the dance, we learn to feel pleasure in sex and deliver pleasant sensations to a loved one.
The most beneficial effect on relationships is dancing with a partner, such as bachata and salsa.
Dancing in pairs, a woman learns to listen to her partner, to follow him, to catch special signs from him, which improves her interpersonal relationships in life.
In pair and group dances, the energy that builds up during movements is enhanced by a partner or group and helps a woman achieve her goals faster. In fitness, there is also such an effect when a coach stimulates a group to a certain result, but in sports there is practically no verbal communication and emotional relationships. In dancing, you can show your attitude towards a partner or a group.
Choosing dance or sports is, of course, a personal matter for everyone. Sports can increase patience and willpower.