It has been theorised that dancing helps the body and the mind. Is dancing an exercise? Will you get a workout?
Whether it is line dancing, tango, waltz or salsa the answer is YES.
Once you get the heart rate up, you can get a very good workout. Dancing is a weight-bearing exercise and can be very addictive. How much energy is required and how you will work up a sweat and feel out of breath will surprise you. Dance can also make you a lot more aware of your posture.
One thing dancing can provide that jogging and regular gym exercises can’t is a creative approach. You are free to invent new forms and choose your own music. There is a lot of accelerating and decelerating in dancing, which the body is less able to do in an energy efficient way and this leads to muscle training and in turn to increased strength.
A new study by researchers at the University of Illinois found that when a group of healthy men and women aged 60 to 79 were assigned to different activities – walking briskly, gentle stretching, balance training or dance lessons for a set number of hours each week – after six months almost all performed better on thinking and memory tests. BUT brain scans showed that the dancing group had also increased the size of a brain structure crucial for memory and processing. Dance can challenge your mind as well as your body!!
A research published in the “The New England Journal of Medicine” showed that frequent dancers had a reduced risk of dementia compared with those who rarely or never danced (study was on 469 patients, all over the age of 75). So not only are you getting a good physical workout, your brain is getting a workout too!
A different study showed that partnered tango dance could improve balance and gait in individuals with Parkinson disease. Dancing in partners allowed these individuals to challenge balance more than non-partnered dance. Furthermore, an investigation published in the Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, linked dancing to improved “white matter” integrity in the brains of older adults. The brain’s white matter can be thought of as its connective tissue. That tissue tends to break down gradually as we age, which leads to a loss of processing speed and the thinking and memory problems that arise later in life.
Dancing’s mood-boosting ability is second to none – from the pleasure of seeing yourself progress to an incredible fun way to spend an hour or two. It’s the perfect antidote to life’s stresses as dance forces you to be in the moment. Concentration is key, you can’t let your mind wander.
All in all how can dancing help:
• Increase blood flow to the brain;
• Less stress, depression and loneliness;
• Improve energy and flexibility;
• Mental challenge (memorizing steps, working with the partner);
• Encourages social bonding.
Put all this together, and it’s clear we could all use more samba, salsa or line dancing in our lives.