How does dance improve your health

Dance - health benefits - Better Health Channel

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Read 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.

About dance

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)
  • Physiotherapist
  • 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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Content disclaimer

Content on this website is provided for information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not in any way endorse or support such therapy, service, product or treatment and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. The information and materials contained on this website are not intended to constitute a comprehensive guide concerning all aspects of the therapy, product or treatment described on the website. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions and to ascertain whether the particular therapy, service, product or treatment described on the website is suitable in their circumstances. The State of Victoria and the Department of Health shall not bear any liability for reliance by any user on the materials contained on this website.

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 improves health - Doctor TV channel

Dance movements have a positive effect on both the body and the soul.

Scientists talk about it all the time. They also note that any kind of physical activity has a positive effect on health - the main thing is that it brings pleasure.

Dancing prolongs life

Is there an age limit for dancing? 73-year-old Briton Peta Borham is sure not! She started dancing only at the age of 60, and now she is already a professional dancer! Peta says that dancing gave her body flexibility and returned a second youth.

And famous American singer, actress and choreographer Toni Basil will be 75 this year. She still gives out hot hip-hop! About dancing, Tony says: “I have always danced and will dance! Dance is my lover, my doctor. I know that, thanks to him, I am healthy!”

Dancing for cerebellar atrophy

Experts have described the benefits of pair dancing to improve cerebellar function in patients with severe cerebellar ataxia. Scientists have also explained the positive effect of dance movement therapy on balance, gait and psychological functions of such patients.

A 39-year-old man who was diagnosed with cerebellar atrophy at the age of 24 participated in an 8-week program to improve balance and stability after training based on dance movements. The authors summarize their findings:

The subject showed improvements in autonomous vertical balance, gait characteristics and motor activity. In addition, there was an improvement in self-assessment and quality of life assessment

Dancing with pregnant women

Fernando Gudes da Cunha, an obstetrician-gynecologist from Brazil, has become popular on the Internet. He became famous thanks to his incendiary dances with women in labor. He believes that dancing helps them reduce pain during contractions, as well as improve their mood and relieve anxiety.

Publication from Dr. Fernando Guedes da Cunha (@drfernandoguedescunha)

Dancing against dementia

Scientists from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases have found that dancing slows down aging by keeping people's cognitive abilities at an optimal level. Dance practices have a positive effect on memory and attention, and experts have also reported a significant reduction in the risk of dementia.

Based on a growing body of empirical evidence, experts believe that dance movements can be used as an integrated therapy in the treatment of diseases such as Parkinson's disease, chronic pain, dementia, autism and mood disorders.

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    Question answer



    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.

    Physical Health

    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)

    Mental 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.)

    Emotional 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.

    Learn more