How does dance affect the mind

How Dancing Affects Mental Health | Elite Dance Stuiod

While the physical benefits of dance are innumerable, dancing can also have a positive impact on mental health.

These benefits are not simply limited to reducing depression and anxiety. Dance is an amazing activity for developing confidence as well as cognitive and communication skills.

Improving mental health and developing cognitive abilities through dance is possible for people of all ages – children, adults, and seniors. Anyone can experience the mental health benefits of participating in dance lessons.

How Dancing Benefits Mental Health

Boosts Confidence

Dancing is beneficial in increasing self-esteem and boosting confidence by fostering self-expression and developing social skills.

Dance provides an environment in which individuals can develop a sense of connection and togetherness with other dancers. This strengthening of social bonds helps to build social confidence and reduce social anxiety.

Individuals who dedicate themselves to dance learn the importance of grit and perseverance. This drive and motivation eventually leads to a sense of accomplishment. Dancers feel a boost of confidence as they master routines and achieve their goals.

Reduces Depression and Anxiety

The physical movements of dance have been shown to reduce levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Much like aerobic exercise, dance provides relief from stress and tension.

Physical exercise elevates dopamine and endorphins, two neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of pleasure and happiness.

Dancing also promotes the experience of “flow”, which is an almost meditative state that allows the dancer to focus solely on the movements, music, and rhythms instead of worries and stress.

This experience of focus and flow also contributes to learning how to be more aware and mindful of one’s mental state.

Improves Cognitive Ability

Dancing not only helps to build body muscle, but brain muscles as well.

As a dancer practices and learns a routine, they are exercising the memory centers of their brain as well as strengthening their concentration. Dance routines also teach pattern recognition skills.

Building up these cognitive skills may contribute to a decrease in the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Studies with Alzheimer’s patients have shown that including dance as part of a therapeutic routine can help improve, or slow the worsening of, the patient’s quality of life.

Helps With Emotional Expression

Dancing teaches expression through movement. Dancers are able to deal with difficult feelings and release them through the steps and routines learned during the dance lesson.

Performance helps extend this expression by placing the dancer in front of other people. What an individual may not be able to verbalize to others, they can often express in dance.

This development of emotional expression relates directly to flow and the reduction of depression. If a dancer can express their emotions during the flow of dance, they are also able to be mindful of the way they feel. Being able to recognize these emotions is one way to avoid succumbing to depression.

The Brain is a Holistic System

Being a holistic system means that what affects one area of the brain can affect all areas of the brain. This works for both negative and positive impacts made to an individual’s mental health.

Dance is an activity that positively affects all regions of the brain. The creation of flow and focus lends to a sense of mindfulness which is a powerful tool in combating struggles such as anxiety. Also, building confidence and self-esteem can have a direct effect on calming social anxiety.

While taking that first step into a dance studio may seem like a monumental challenge, there is no denying that the lasting effects of dance are well worth the leap.

If you are interested in learning more about the mental health benefits of dance, or wish to enroll in one of our many dance classes, please contact Elite Dance Studio today.

Can Dancing Improve Your Mental Health?

Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on October 25, 2021

In this Article

  • Benefits
  • Potential Risks
  • Tips on Using Dance to Improve Your Mental Well-Being

Dance has existed for thousands of years. Moving your body creatively is a popular way to express yourself and exercise. Up to 10 million Americans have danced at a studio or have taken a class. Even more just dance for fun at home or with friends.

Beyond just movements and music, dancing offers many benefits for mental health and brain function.


Dancing offers plenty of benefits for your emotions, intelligence, and relationships. Learning and practicing dance can:

Improve self-esteem. The amount that you respect and value yourself is your self-esteem. Showing yourself that you can learn and master new moves and skills through dance can improve your self-esteem and confidence.  

Help you meet new people. Social interaction between groups of people is important to your mental well-being. Talking and spending time with others improves your mood. It also makes you feel like you belong and eases loneliness.

Dance classes, where you learn and move alongside others, are a great way to gain these mental health benefits.

Improve your mood and attitude. Dancing can improve your mood while you learn, move, and perform. In fact, many people take dance classes because they put them in a good mood. 

Ease depression and anxiety. Dance is an effective type of exercise that raises your heart rate and works your muscles. Exercise can help with symptoms of depression and anxiety by releasing certain chemicals in your brain. It also provides a way to escape repetitive negative thoughts and worries. These are thoughts that run through your mind over and over. 

Protect your memory. As we age, it gets harder to remember names, places, and other details. Learning new things, like different moves and styles of dance, sharpens your brain’s ability to remember these kinds of details.  This can help prevent dementia. 

The mental advantages of dancing depend on the type of dance you learn. Styles like ballroom dancing require a large degree of improvisation. These improve your decision-making skills more than completely memorized movements and routines. On the other hand, interpretive modern dance styles offer more benefits for creativity. 

Potential Risks

Injury. Just like any other form of exercise, dance involves risks of injury. Some of the most common injuries dancers get are to their hips, feet, ankles, and knees. Don’t overwork your body. Call your doctor if you have pain or soreness that keeps you awake at night, doesn’t go away, or gets worse when you’re dancing.

Self-consciousness. Even professional dancers sometimes feel self-conscious and insecure when trying different styles or learning new techniques. If you feel uncomfortable while learning something unfamiliar, try to focus on the movements themselves instead of how you think you look.

Tips on Using Dance to Improve Your Mental Well-Being

You can dance almost anywhere! Try many different styles and settings to see what you like best. Whether you’re alone or with a group, making it up on the spot, or performing a routine, you can incorporate dance into your life. 

Take a dance class. If you want to interact with others while you dance, consider enrolling in a virtual or in-person class. Health clubs, community centers, schools, and other organizations often offer studio dance classes for all experience levels. A Google search for dance classes in your area will bring up your nearest options.

Dance with yourself. Dancing can be just as fun by yourself as it is with others. Turn on a catchy song and move your body to the beat and sounds. When no one is watching, it can be easier to enjoy the experience and not worry about how you look.

Learn a routine. If you want to challenge yourself, go beyond your improvised dance moves. Try teaching yourself a dance routine that someone else created. You can download apps or watch videos that explain a routine step-by-step. You can also learn movements and sequences from watching a dance performance over and over. 

Don’t be overly critical. Many people dance for the sense of meaning that it brings to their lives. Natural talent is not required! Dance because it feels good. Don’t let your worries about looking silly stop you from having fun. Even professional dancers make mistakes. They use them to learn and improve themselves, and so should you.

How dance affects a person

It's simple: with the first steps in dancing, you begin the path to yourself, or rather to your improved version. As a rule, this is not an easy path and not at all short, but it is worth going through. Let's discuss this.

Dance is able to influence not only the body. It can change your thoughts, attitude towards yourself and others. Your plasticity and the way you move directly affect your self-esteem and emotional reactions. Have you ever noticed that all emotions are immediately reflected in the body, and the position of the body affects how you feel? This is because our body language and movement patterns directly affect not only how others perceive us, but also our sense of self. nine0003

How the body changes consciousness

Moreover, the behavior of the body is directly related to thinking, feeling and sensations. The body is able to remember the positions in which it spends most of the time. If you often experience negative emotions, they freeze in the body and turn into movement patterns. If you constantly experience fear, insecurity, embarrassment, then shrink, pull your head into your shoulders, slouch. The muscles responsible for these positions get used to being constantly in tension. To relax them, you will have to make a conscious effort. It turns out a vicious circle: emotions form muscle clamps, constant tension feeds emotions, and you can no longer get rid of this situation so easily. nine0003

Thus, you can not only get a negative habit, but, on the contrary, get rid of it. Good news, isn't it? In addition to high spirits, a person switches to sensations in his body, focuses on movements, forgetting about business and problems for a while. In addition, the first confidence in the movements appears, and, therefore, self-confidence.

“Dance is the most sublime, the most touching and beautiful of the arts, because it is not just an expression or a distraction from life, it is life itself,” the English psychologist and physician Havelock Ellis once said. And it's hard to disagree with that. nine0003

Dance is a complete cardio activity

An hour of active dancing can be compared to an hour of running on a treadmill or an hour of swimming. The load during dancing gives optimal training to both the heart and blood vessels, as well as the muscles and joints of the body. After a few weeks, you will notice that the body has become more elastic and toned, and the numbers on the scale will pleasantly surprise you.

Dancing, we not only get a lot of pleasure, a more elastic and flexible body, cultivate stress resistance, but also effectively train the cardiovascular system, increase the overall tone of the body and immunity, and become more resilient. Dancing is the perfect way to learn how to control your body. It's hard to imagine a dancer with bad posture. By mastering new dance steps, you will correct your posture, strengthen your back muscles and begin to move more gracefully and confidently. nine0003

Regular dance classes will teach you to really hear and feel the music. A dancing person develops a sense of rhythm, an artistic taste appears. Moreover, the sense of rhythm tightly enters your life, making you more collected, attentive, organized.

Dancing will make you smarter

Dancing has been proven to improve human cognition as it prepares the brain to learn something new. The dynamism required when making decisions (such as what dance move you need to do next) opens the way for new neural pathways that speed up and improve the transfer of information. Such actions contribute to the improvement of mental abilities, since cognitive processes are implemented in more than one way. So, by gaining dancing skills, you pump not only your body, but also your mind. nine0003

Start right now and dance more often! Especially social dancing.

Dancing lessons, emotions, psyche, health


All about dancing

What are the health benefits of dancing?

Dancing is a great way for people of all ages to keep fit. Dancing is not only exciting and enjoyable, but also very healthy. In this article, we will tell you exactly what benefits dancing can bring to your body. nine0003

Dance is one of those things that can really brighten up the monotonous life of any person. Dance is good for emotional state, mental and physical health and for well-being and self-awareness in general. When you decide to add physical activity to your life, you try to choose something more exciting. And what could be more exciting than dancing?

Why dancing is good for general well-being

Dancing protects your heart Dance is a great activity for those who are at high risk of cardiovascular disease. An Italian study has shown that people with heart failure who engage in dance as a form of exercise improve their heart health and improve their breathing. Their quality of life also improves significantly compared to those who exercise on exercise bikes or treadmills.
Dance helps to lose weight If you regularly practice dancing, then they will help you lose weight. A study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that dance-based recreational aerobics is just as effective for weight loss and fitness as cycling or running. nine0003

Dancing gives you energy Do you feel like you lack energy during the day? Dancing will help you regain it. A study published in The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition found that weekly dancing can improve physical fitness and make adults more energetic.
Dancing makes you more flexible, strong and resilient Dancing requires you to be flexible at times. Most dance classes begin with a warm-up that includes stretching and flexibility exercises. When you dance, you must try your best so that all muscle groups are involved. nine0052 Dancing makes you stronger by making your muscles resist the weight of your own body. Many dance styles, including jazz and ballet, involve jumping. And in order to jump, the muscles of your legs must be especially strong. Dancing is a physical exercise, so it makes you more resilient. Endurance is the ability of the muscles to work each time for a longer and longer period without fatigue. If you practice dancing regularly, especially in an energetic style, you will become much more resilient. nine0003

Why dancing is good for your emotional state

Dancing makes you happy Dancing is a special act that everyone enjoys. If you watch a man dancing, you will surely notice a big smile on his face. Smiling and laughing while dancing is absolutely normal! Just dancing allows you to truly enjoy life and yourself. Unlike other physical exercises, there are no age restrictions in dancing. A person at any age can dance and enjoy the benefits that this activity brings to his health. nine0066 Dance relieves you of stress and depression Dance has been proven to prevent mild depression and make the dancer more confident. Depression is becoming more and more common in teenagers and adults of all ages. A study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience has shown that dance therapy not only helps with depression, but also helps fight stress by regulating serotonin and dopamine levels in the body. Considering that dancing is also a social act, it helps to get rid of the feeling of loneliness that so often affects people and depressions and at times - elderly people living alone. nine0003

Dancing makes you feel good about yourself Dancing helps you become more confident. Every time you learn a new move, you gain more confidence and your mood gets better. And this heightened self-confidence extends to all areas of your life. Dance is a social act, as we have said. Research has shown that strong social connections and hanging out with friends help boost self-esteem and give you a positive outlook on life. Dancing gives you many opportunities to meet other people. Sign up for dance classes - it will help you raise your self-esteem and make new friends. Given that exercise relieves tension and stress, dancing will make you feel good overall. nine0003

Benefits of dancing for mental health

Dancing improves memory Dancing can improve memory and prevent dementia, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Scientists have found that aerobic exercise helps prevent shrinkage of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory. The hippocampus naturally shrinks throughout adulthood. This often leads to memory problems, and sometimes to dementia. nine0003

Dancing helps fight Alzheimer's A study in older adults published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that dancing often helps to avoid symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. In addition, dancing makes people of any age smarter. This study also showed that people suffering from Alzheimer's are able to retrieve forgotten memories when they dance to familiar music.

Dancing makes you smarter For centuries, textbooks and other writings about dance have lauded the health benefits of the activity, treating dance as a physical exercise. Today, thanks to scientists, the benefits of dance for the mind have also been proven. The main quality of an intelligent person is the ability to make decisions. The ideal way to develop this skill is to take on a job that requires you to make decisions quickly (in seconds) all the time.

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