How dancing helps your body
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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How Dancing Helps Your Health
All You Need Is You
Dancing is a great cardiovascular workout that you can do anywhere without having to go to the gym or buy any equipment. You don't need any training equipment; you don't need any weights, machines or anything like that. Literally all you need is yourself.
The training you get from dancing can vary depending on the type of movement being performed. At the end of an hour-long ballet class, participants will undoubtedly stretch various muscle groups and perform movements for precision and balance. However, an evening on the dance floor at a club or at a celebratory event often results in an increase in heart rate.
Social dancing has a greater effect on the cardiovascular system because you do endurance exercises for a long period of time. In addition, motor skills and technique can also benefit both children and the elderly. Although it looks like a highly specialized form, we are still working on the fundamental principles of movement that each person must acquire in order to be able to move from a child crawling on the floor to kneeling, walking, running, jumping, kicking.
And for the elderly, dancing is great for expanding range of motion by allowing the joints to move freely in all planes.
For decades, physicians have tried to find innovative ways to slow down the cognitive decline seen in the elderly. As a rule, as we age, our cognitive functions begin to decline.
The researchers looked at adults aged 60 to 80 who showed no signs of memory loss or impairment. Participants were assigned one of three activities: brisk walking, stretching and balance training, or dance classes. Three times a week, members of the dance group practiced country-style choreography.
The goal was to see how increasing aerobic exercise, aerobic exercise and dancing can help protect our brains from aging. At the end of the study, all participants had a brain scan, which was compared with the scans taken before the start of the classes. The dancers felt better and had fewer brain problems than the other groups, since unlike aerobic or stretching exercises, more memory and learning skills were definitely involved.
We all need a mental break from time to time. Dancing can help you with this. It's a nice opposite of being stuck in a screen and sitting at home watching TV.
A 2014 study found positive changes in the mood of dancers who exercised them for recreation. Participants had higher energy levels and were less stressed compared to professional dancers, who had similar stress levels to other athletes.
Rhythmic movement, unlike even high-level running, causes the release of endorphins, which can improve your mood. A 2011 study found that dancing helps improve cognitive flexibility with age, which is known to decline even in highly functioning people.
In adolescent girls, regular dance lessons had a positive effect on their mental health. An American Medical Association study found that teenage girls had more positive thoughts and felt more confident after dancing. They reported better feelings for their overall health after participating in structured dance classes.
Balance and coordination
Each year, more than one in four adults aged 65 and over suffer from a fall. At the same time, millions of children and adolescents are injured while playing sports. And while the two incidents may seem incredibly different, the potential solution is the same: drop like a dancer. The technique taught in dance classes increases body awareness and promotes low impact landing. These techniques are useful not only for dancers on stage, but also for athletes involved in injury-prone sports, children developing motor skills, and seniors concerned about injury.
The elderly population is at high risk of falls, and we think that dancing in particular may be helpful in reducing the risk of falls because dancing is a series of balance tests. Also compared to dancers, athletes tend to have more knee injuries, especially ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries, it is believed that the special jumping training that dancers use can prevent knee injuries such as an ACL tear.
The movements and exercises taught to dancers require lengthened movements and full extensions, resulting in a decrease in the force generated by their body.
Dance has no age limit
Whether you want to dance at a party, make a social media video or perform on stage with a ballet company, everyone can benefit from dancing. All-encompassing art is available to everyone with countless benefits.
Unlike many types of exercises, there are no strict rules in dancing. Participants range from toddlers to senior citizens; anyone can join and enjoy the experience. We know that movement is good for everyone. A healthy lifestyle is about integrating the relationship between mind, body and soul, and dance has all of these characteristics. Dance makes you feel your muscles, bones and joints, and thus, contact with your body is the first step to any physical form.
How dancing helps you get rid of dizziness and become smarter
November 15, 2013Tips
Many men do not take dancing seriously and consider it an activity exclusively for girls, and even then not for everyone. Especially often from our men you can hear: "Men don't dance!". And rightly so, the occupation is not serious!
But in fact, dance is not only exercise for your body. It is also a kind of brain trainer! We have already published articles that playing sports, and running in particular, spur a person's cognitive abilities. Now it's time for the dancing.
Dancing improves brain function at various levels. Two recent studies have shown how different types of dance enable dancers to achieve peak performance by blending cerebral and cognitive processes with muscle memory and proprioception.
Proprioception, proprioception (from Latin proprius - "own, special" and receptor - "receiving"; from Latin capio, cepi - "accept, perceive"), deep sensitivity - a sense of the position of parts of one's own body relative to each other.
Through aerobic exercise at least twice a week, which combines different types of dance, everyone can maximize their brain function. Of course, we are not talking about the convulsive impulses of the body, which many people try to pass off as a dance, but about a dance in which not only the body, but also the brain is included in the work.
Professional dancers never get dizzy. Why?
If you are prone to dizziness, then you need to learn how to dance! A new study has found that dancing can help manage dizziness and improve balance. In September 2013, researchers at Imperial College London reported that choreographers have a slightly different brain structure than non-dancers. And it is these specific differences that help them avoid dizziness during pirouettes.
Movement Visualization Helps Improve Muscle Memory
Another study, published in an article on psychologicalscience.org, showed that dancers are able to break down a dance into parts in their minds and mentally go through each movement, leaving "markers" of sorts.
Findings published in Psychological Science suggest that this labeling may alleviate the conflict between the cognitive and physical aspects of dance. This is what allows the dancers to memorize the movements and perform them smoothly. They seem to be in a flow.
And at this time, their brain is working to its fullest, thinking through each step and connecting it with the next as smoothly as possible. So that from the outside it looks like one single, smooth movement, and not a set of separate intermittent ones.
How can this be applied?
How can the above research be applied to the daily life of the common man, rather than the professional dancer?
If you learn to control the part of the brain responsible for this, you can help many people who suffer from dizziness, not related to other problems in the body. Scientists are just working on this problem.
Dr. Barry Simangle of the Imperial College Medical Department has worked with many patients for whom dizziness has become a real problem. Ballet dancers are able to train their brains so that they stop feeling dizzy. So doctors wondered if they could use the same principles to help their patients.
Visualization and synchronization are quite applicable, for example, in the study of foreign languages. As in the case of dancing, the brain needs to perform two actions at the same time - to translate a word from one language to another. And not just translate, but put them into sentences. In addition, if the languages differ significantly from each other, you have to work twice as hard.
It turns out that in order to benefit from dancing, it is not at all necessary to become a professional dancer. Dancing for the soul just a couple of times a week is a great way to improve the functioning of the cerebellum, keep the body in good shape, remove the unpleasant feeling of dizziness from your life (one in four people get dizzy at least occasionally) and facilitate the process of learning, for example, foreign languages.