Get Your Groove On And Enjoy The Benefits Of Dancing
Not everyone can move like Beyoncé, but there is undoubtedly something fun and freeing about busting a move and having a boogie. Many of us used to dance often when we were kids, but enjoy it less as we get older. It doesn’t have to be that way!
Dancing isn’t something you can only do if you are trained or take classes, and even those of us with two left feet or a lack of rhythm can get a huge amount of joy from it - not to mention the number of benefits for your mind and body.
When was the last time you danced? It could be time to put on your favourite playlist, make yourself a dance floor and let loose! If you need any extra convincing, here are some of the top reasons why it’s so good for you.
Boost your overall performance
Many common training styles such as strength training, Pilates, running, cycling and swimming will have you moving your body in quite predictable and repetitive patterns. On the other hand, the average dance routine might have you jumping, bending, twisting, leaning and turning your body in a range of different ways, using different muscles, and the pace of your movements can often change with the tempo of the music, too.
Because dancing can require such a large range of motion, muscles and speed, it can be a great way to improve your overall athletic performance, including skills such as coordination, agility, mobility, balance and spatial awareness.
Take care of your body as you age
One study on older women published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports investigated the associations between different types of exercise and the risk of becoming physically disabled and being unable to complete everyday tasks like walking, bathing and dressing.
The women were asked about what type of exercise they did and any signs of disability over eight years, and (surprise, surprise), regular physical activity helped women remain mobile and independent as they aged, but some types of exercise definitely seemed to have more of a positive impact than others.
Dancing topped the list, even ahead of calisthenics, walking and yoga! The women who frequently danced had a 73% lower chance of becoming disabled during the study period, compared to women who didn’t.
Bop your way to better brain health
Dancing has been shown to promote brain health and mental wellbeing. Heading out for a cardio session or completing a full-body workout is definitely going to engage your brain, but the mental focus required to learn a dance routine is on another level!
Learning a dance routine involves memorising sequences of movements, coordinating different parts of your body to move at the same time, and pairing it all together with the beat or lyrics of a song. All of this mental activity can help to create new neural pathways and improve your brain health.
A 2017 study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience compared the impact of dance training versus endurance and flexibility training on the brain health and behaviour of elderly volunteers.
Researchers observed brain health benefits for both training styles, but saw better results for the dancing group, plus improvements in areas such as balance, that the traditional training group did not experience.
Another 2018 study on the effects of mind-body exercises on cognitive function in older adults also supported this with their findings that mind-body exercises, especially dancing and tai-chi, are beneficial for cognition, memory and learning.
Look after your bones
Because dancing is a form of weight-bearing exercise, it can be a great way to keep your bones strong and reduce your risk of osteoporosis, where your bones become brittle and weak to the point they can break easily.
Alongside strength training and weight-bearing exercises, you can also make your bone health a priority by getting your daily intake of calcium and vitamin D.
Have fun and feel happier
Anyone who loves to dance will know what a positive effect it can have on your mood and there is growing evidence to support this! If you ever need something to perk you up or keep workout boredom at bay, a boogie in your lounge could hit the spot. Dancing, either alone or with other people, can also boost those feel-good endorphins to improve your mood and alleviate stress.
If you follow Sweat Trainer Kelsey Wells on Instagram you’ll know she’s a fan of having a laugh and dancing at home for the sheer joy of it.
One 2013 study investigated whether dance training would influence how adolescent girls who were experiencing mental health challenges such as depressed mood, low self-worth and psychosomatic symptoms self-rated their health.
While self-rated health is a subjective measurement, the girls who participated in dance training twice a week for eight months improved more than those in the control group, and this effect remained for months afterwards! The study highlighted the positive role of joyful and social phsyical activity in influencing how we perceive our health.
Build muscular strength and endurance
Dancing can be a really tough workout for your cardiovascular system and your muscles. Some of the more challenging styles for your muscles include ballet, cheerleading, hip hop, breakdancing and pole-dancing.
For a dance-inspired workout program in the Sweat app, Sweat Trainer Britany Williams has barre programs Barre with Britany and High Intensity Barre with Britany Williams, which combine elements of ballet and Pilates and incorporate high-intensity moves to help build your strength, improve flexibility, coordination and control. Brit will have your muscles burning!
Create social connections
Looking to make some new friends or have a laugh with your besties? Try a dance class! It can be a great way to boost those feelings of social connectedness or expand your social circle.
How do you get started?
Dancing at home is easy! Just clear a space, put on some comfy clothes and blast your favourite music (or look for dancing playlists), and start moving to the beat in whatever way feels good for your body. Don’t worry about looking silly or doing it wrong, just enjoy yourself. You could also try to learn routines at home off TikTok or YouTube.
If you’ve always wanted to learn to dance or think a class sounds like fun, look up local dance studios or classes in your area. Most studios and community classes will allow you to do casual one-off sessions, or you could sign up for a term or class package.
Wanting to do a structured workout that feels dance-inspired? Try some of Brit’s barre workouts in the Sweat app! You can either select a workout from the On Demand section, or choose one of her programs.
Not sure what styles of dance you could try? Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Belly dancing
- Hip hop
Moving your body doesn’t always have to mean cardio or weights and dancing is an amazing way to spice up your routine and find joy in movement. We hope you’ve got your playlist at the ready!
* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.