Remember the feeling of being young and just letting yourself move in time with music? It might have been in your bedroom, or in front of the television or you may have built an entire week in Ibiza around dancing, but sometimes life can come between us and getting our groove on. What if a spin around the dancefloor is exactly what you need to shift your moods? Can dancing be so powerful it can alleviate the need for anti-depressant medication? You’ll already know from your own experience that dancing is good for your heart – you can feel your heart rate rise as you move – but there is scientific evidence that says dancing can improve our mental health.
A study undertaken by Anna Duberg, a physical therapist at Örebro University Hospital, looked at the impact of dance on 112 Swedish girls, aged 13 to 19. These girls had all made repeated visits to the school nurse with symptoms, including anxiety, depression, fatigue, headaches, and back, neck, and shoulder pain. In the study, 59 of the girls were randomly assigned to a group that danced together two days a week and 53 girls to a control group where the girls did not change their habits. Results show that the girls in the dance group increased their self-esteem and benefited from improved moods, compared with the control group. This positive effect lasted long after the study ended, with the impact still felt 8 months later. At Minot State University, North Dakota, a research study, of adults aged 65-91, found that 12 weeks of Zumba not only improved the moods of the participants, but also improved visual recognition and decision-making.
Exercise releases endorphins, hormones which are known to improve your mood, but it would appear that dancing brings with it other benefits that don’t come with hitting the gym or pounding the pavement. Dance can help encourage a calm approach to life and allow people to express their creativity. A study documented in Complementary Therapies in Medicine showed that researchers found that tango classes lowered individuals’ stress levels more than meditation and encouraged positive emotions, better self-esteem and lessened anxiety.
Many studies demonstrate that dancing does make a difference to individual’s mental health and wellbeing. Research shows that people who dance are less likely to be depressed and they connect with higher levels of emotional well-being.
There are some physiological facts that are easy to connect with dancing. It’s great for your leg muscles and glutes, it works your hips, your lower back and your abdomen and many forms of dancing can also work the arms and the upper body, which can bring relief from back pain.
Yet, there are other emotions that dancing can make us feel that you might not experience through other exercise. Sure, running is great for that one foot after the other meditative state but you’re more likely to stay ‘in the zone’ rather than connect with yourself or others on a deeper level. Dancing can make you feel happy while you are dancing, rather than pushing on to complete a workout or training schedule. Dancing can also make you feel free and tap into your emotions at the same time.
Whether it’s in your living room or your local studio, get dancing!
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The link below incorporates HIIT exercises too and moves from Body combat that give you a whole body workout that will tone you too.