Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dance: It's good for you! -- 15 benefits of dancing

Anybody who has even a little bit of experience in dancing knows that it does wonders for your mind and body. But there's no harm in reminding you about it! 

Read the updated version of this story:

1. Dancing makes you smarter

This is an actual studied fact. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed there's a clear connection between dancing and reduced amounts of dementia (76%). Dancing beats, surprisingly, many other activities like cycling or swimming (0%); even doing crossword puzzles (47%). The reason for this, as proposed by the study, is that dancing increases your cognitive reserve and the complexity of neuronal synapses. But hey, any dancer knows this is fact!

2. Dancing boosts your energy levels

Everybody who loves to dance remembers the energizing effect of a dance class or just busting some moves at home. Dancing - the exercise - releases endorphin, yes, and this brings your energy levels higher. If you're dancing to your favourite, up-beat music, it's hard not to feel a nice positive kick!

3. Dancing improves your flexibility

Flexibility is not important only for acrobats and prima ballerinas. Good health means also good flexibility! Us dancers constantly - intentionally and unintentionally - exercise our flexibility, to be able to use the full range of motion. The benefits of flexibility even for the every-day-Joe are clear: flexible body and muscles are less likely to injure, to feel pain or become stressed or irritated. With stretching you are also improving your blood flow and delivering essential nutrients around your body - and working towards better health and vitality.

4. Dancing improves your balance

While dancing works on your core muscles - as well as all other muscle groups of your body - it improves your balance! Also, a study has shown a connection between dancing and increase of balance and decrease of dizziness. In this study by the Imperial College London it was discovered that dancers are able to suppress signals from the balance organs in the inner ear. This in part can be used in treatment of patients with chronic dizziness.

5. Dancing improves your posture

Have you noticed that coming home from your dance class you hold yourself just a little bit better? I have :) It's hard to slouch and do all those cool dance moves at the same time. A good posture helps you to maintain good health, especially reduced back problems, and it also helps you to breath better as well as look & feel better about yourself!

6. Dancing is a great exercise for your heart and your bones

Dance is a good way to give your heart the exercise it needs, and - like many other aerobic workouts - this can help lower your blood cholesterol as well as increase your general cardiovascular health. While you're jumping around, did you know that you're also strengthening bones? Two thumbs up!

7. Dancing builds endurance

Dancing all day or all night - or even in moderate amounts - definitely builds up your endurance. Endurance means that your muscles are able to work for long (and longer, and longer) periods of time without fatigue. I can certainly testify that social dancing is great for improving stamina; time just passes by when you are dancing for hours on end and only when you get home you realize what an amazing workout you just plowed through!

8. Dancing helps you lose weight

35% of adults, globally, are overweight. This is a no-brainer: When you exercise a lot you lose weight (it certainly helps in that)! Getting rid of excess weight is the #1 way to improve your health. And the obvious added bonus; when you are shedding the excess fat, those toned dance muscles are starting to show as well. 

Flexibility, social skills, self-esteem, balance, friendships, exercise, laughs, creativity and all round positive energy - just some of the benefits of dancing!

9. Dancing reduces stress and fights depression

A.k.a. "Dancing is cheaper than therapy". Social and physical aspects of dancing both work towards giving a person a better sense of well-being and building their self esteem. As you take a break of your normal daily chores, your work or your troubles even, by taking a dance class or going out dancing, you are certainly reducing your stress levels and releasing unnecessary tension. 

--> If you're interested in this, you might like to read my post on the magic of dance flow (and how to reach it)!

10. Dancing helps you to be more social and to make new friends

It's impossible to be anti-social when you go to a dance class or to a dance party. You'll instantly meet new people that you have something in common with: the dance! Doing something physical together is also a great way to break the ice :) Social dancing in particular - there's a reason why it's called "social" - works wonders on your social skills! 

11. Dancing opens new horizons

Dance styles are quite often great windows to different cultures. There's typically an ethnic character in all dances. And at the same time they build bridges between cultures. Through dance, and music, you don't only get to know new things about the culture, but you're also likely to meet people from different cultural backgrounds. How cool is that!? I've even noticed it helps me to learn new languages!

12. Dancing is a great way to channel and invigorate your creativity

Dance is a superb creative outlet! While you're working with your body and are learning & experimenting new things, listening to music, you're giving yourself a massive creativity boost. I, like many others surely, have also noticed dancing is a great way to clear your mind from all kinds of negative thoughts and worries, which can block creativity. Dance can even be a direct source for inspiration - just tap into that! 

13. You don't need any fancy gear or a specific space to dance

Need to pack for a ski day? A golf round? Hockey practice? Pheeewww... Need to pack for a dance class? Just come as you are! No fancy clothes, elaborate gear or bulky accessories are necessary: you can dance in your regular clothes and in your socks if you wish. Once you progress you'll probably feel like you want to buy dance shoes and clothes, but no need to do that in the start. Anyway, dance clothes and shoes are very small, light and easy to carry. Some even have a pair of light dance sneakers or heels on their bag where ever they go ;) Finding a suitable dance space is also easy, no special arenas are needed - just a couple m2 of your living room will do fine for a dance practice!

14. Dancing is fun! 

If don't like something, it's hard to derive all the positive effects that come with it. But dancing - it's fun! I hate to break it to you, but some say it's even better than sex! And it's really not possible to have as much as sex - meaning for hours and hours - as it is to dance. Comparing with different ways to exercise; would you rather spend an hour on the exercise bike or the treadmill - or dancing? Find a dance style that you like, and you'll be sure to get to find out a new meaning for the word "fun"!

15. Anyone can dance

There's no "you have to be this high to take this ride" in dancing. Despite what some might think, dancing is for everyone - all ages, shapes and backgrounds! You'll be sure to find a dance that fits your abilities and preferences. Nobody was born a dancer (even though it might not feel like it, looking at others, in the start) and we've all been a beginner once so we know what it's like. Don't worry, don't be embarrassed; just jump in! And if you don't like dancing with other people, you can always just put on your favourite song and dance by yourself!

--> Not convinced? Read my story of how I became a dancer and how can others too!


Did I miss out something?
What is your #1 benefit of dancing?
Share your thoughts below in the comments or on DTW Facebook page!

Zouk & the benefits of dancing

Have you seen this video, filmed in the São Paulo zouk club Carioca, about the benefits of zouk?

The video is in Portuguese but gives a nice look into zouk dancing in Brazil so my fellow dance friends might enjoy seeing it! Here's a quick translation of mine of the main points, to my non-Portuguese speaking readers (notice: my Portuguese is improving!!):

Zouk is sensual, does no harm, helps you lose weight, fights depression and loneliness, and everybody can learn it! There are many benefits of zouk - it helps your respiration system, strengthens slow and fast muscle tissue and works on various parts of the body (the legs, the waist..). It doesn't take long to learn zouk and starting dancing enjoyably in the parties. A zouk class can burn even 400-500 calories! Zouk will also help you to socialize and meet people from all arenas of life.

More about the benefits of dancing


In the flow - The magic of dance flow: how to reach it and why?
In the flow - videos and tips (part 2)

Zoukeiras, it's our time to shine! Part 1 of zouk ladies' styling tips
Styling for the whole body (and mind): Part 2 of zouk ladies' styling tips

Practice makes perfect - myths & theories about becoming an advanced dancer

Getting a grip with musicality - the most vague and insightful part of dancing
How to improve your musicality - 6 exercises for dancers

50 signs of zouk addiction

All dance technique posts

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