Dance floors are meant to be sparkly. No, we are not talking about the sparkly clothes or the glitter shoes that we wear while dancing. We are, in fact, talking about how dance floors are sparkling places for another reason — sweat. The shimmies and the shakes are what contribute to a sweaty place which in turn makes the space sparkly. And all that sparkle comes with surprising health benefits too.
Dance as an elaborate form of exercise is not new. They say that the dance therapy movement goes decades back. Marian Chace introduced dance to psychiatric patients at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, DC in the 1940s. “Dance for Communication” — a class taught by her to the World War II vets — offered them a way to convey feelings. Imagine how easier it would have become to express feelings through dance when you are traumatized and can’t really verbalize them.
Even today, dance is used for everything from autism to depression to eating disorders.
One may not deny that there is a body and mind connection and dance sure can become a way for people to use what’s happening inside them and express it in an external way. You can say that dance therapy is almost like talk therapy where discussion helps patients to explore their feelings and alleviate psychological pain. Dance, on the other hand, helps people develop a physical vocabulary in addition to talk therapy.
If we had to count the benefits of dance broadly, it has the ability to connect our minds to our bodies in elemental ways. Body alignment? Check. Enhanced mood? Check. Boosted confidence? Check. And it has so many more mental and physical health benefits for us. Let’s explore some benefits of dancing:
Health and the power of dance
There are innumerable reasons to take a turn on the dance floor. And you can stop thinking of weddings or a Saturday night out as the only events you can do that. As we earlier discussed, gone are the days when the dance was meant only for such events. From healing patients with traumatic experiences in World War II to becoming world domination as a curated form of exercise, dance has created a firm place in our hearts. And we can thank reality TV shows and movies based on a dance that have really made dance a craze that many people turn to not only to have fun but also get fit, at the same time.
The uniqueness of dance has a range from strengthening your emotions to cognitive skills and strengthening physical abilities to social connections. We all know how polishing these skills are vital skills if not skills that one cannot survive without. The fun factor is of course sky-high but now we’ll let you know how dance is really good for your health:
The mental benefits of dancing
It may not strike one’s mind at first, but even research suggests that dancing has a range of mental health and wellbeing benefits. We had established an example of how DMT (Dance Movement Therapy) helped people. A review of research, which included 23 studies, looked at the evidence of how Dance Movement Therapy has affected people over the last 20 years. Reviewing many different types of dance — from ballroom to folk, studying different groups of people, and a range of aspects of psychological well-being, the findings were like this:
- Dancing has a positive effect on our quality of life, mood, and even body image.
- DMT and dancing also reduced anxiety and depression.
The physical benefits of dancing
Dance raises your heart rate. As a great way to raise your heart rate, dance can help you burn over 400 calories in an hour, and one can check this on a calorie calculator, it would tell you so.
Dance also helps you make your muscles work hard and therefore helps you to maintain and improve strength.
There would be no dance form that won’t require you to use different parts of your body in one way or another. From your head and neck right down to your toes, everything is involved. It’s noticed that while the upper body and arms move in one direction, on the other hand, the lower body and legs are meant to move in a completely different fashion. The change of movements can be compared to activities like rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time. Thus dance works on your concentration, coordination, and even balance and agility. It is a workout of the body and mind.
Boosting your mood
So if you are wondering why dance is thought to be a mood booster — it is because it affects certain chemicals in your brain. All forms of exercise, which now include dancing too, are meant to be a mood booster. Chemicals like dopamine and serotonin can affect our mood and thinking.
An immediate sense of release while you start and end a dance lesson is what gives dancing the edge. One can leave whatever happened during the day behind them and then focus their mind on the challenge ahead. And dance is for sure a challenge. You do not only push your body to move physically. You also have to think about the way it moves.
The reason many people try to impart knowledge on how dancers can harness the power of dance/movement therapy is that picking up choreography requires a lot of brainpower too. One has to be continuously on the ball. Mood changes and even after one has learned the moves, one needs to ‘drill the moves’ to allow them to come naturally and become part of the routine in a flowy manner. When one has a dance class they feel great. They may even buzz from the excitement of learning a new piece of choreography. At times, they may not nail it towards the end of the session, but it still gives them something to focus on and a determination they might never have had before.
Which dance style is right for me?
Are you wondering which dance style is the right one for you? There are a variety of benefits one can reap from each dance. We personally, at Dance Incubation, teach Bachata — an intimate dance between couples to rejuvenate their relationship and at the same time gain self-confidence.
Speaking of each, are you interested in bringing some fun to your life and relationship? Well, Dance Incubation is offering a free videos series, where you will learn how to move your body in 3 everyday situations. It’s both fun, and a very different take on how you can actually incorporate dancing in your everyday life without taking classes, spend an extreme amount of time OR even leave your house.
Further, by default, Bachata would be our favorite pick among other dancing styles, credit goes to the multiple benefits of learning Bachata over other dance forms. But dance forms like Tango, Salsa, Street dance, Ballet/Barre, and Zumba are great dance forms to go for too. All dances have different health benefits. The high physical intimacy in dances like Bachata and even dances such as Tango or Salsa that demand lesser intimacy, have additional health benefits though. Physical intimacy leads to release of love hormone — oxytocin — which helps people have better relationships with each other. Dance as a therapy for couples, married or dating, is emerging as a very helpful option when paired with other effective ways to improve communication in a relationship.
Over to you
We all fall prey to the spiral that insinuates us of our “inability” to learn dance. We doubt ourselves and leave the idea of learning dance on the back burner. Do you also think dancing isn’t for you? Or maybe you are dreading the sweaty hands and your partner stepping on your toes. There are numerous reasons one, even if they desire, always end up dropping the idea of learning dance. One of the most common reasons is a lack of confidence. In the case of wanting to learn a couple’s dance, some may complain about not having a partner. And we have heard some people saying they are too old to start learning dance.
Well, if holding someone’s sweaty hands has you all dreaded, you can go for line dancing, ballet, tap, contemporary, and street dance styles. Some of them can be group dances but none of them will demand physical intimacy.
If it looks so hard, and you consider keeping up tough, just remember that everyone was a beginner and so are you. Do not feel intimidated and learn to dance in everyday situations. Like earlier mentioned you can go for the online videos by Dance Incubation. These free videos series, where you will learn how to move your body in 3 everyday situations. It’s both fun, and a very different take on how you can actually incorporate dancing in your everyday life without taking classes, spend an extreme amount of time OR even leave your house.
If you think you are only going to make a fool of yourself, well, trust yourself and self-motivate. Sometimes it’s only us who can create an open and supportive atmosphere to strive in it. Always remember, there are many people who feel the same. There is no point in holding yourself back as the power of dance and its health benefits will outweigh your fear of making a fool of yourself. Truth is, everyone is too busy checking themselves out that they have no time spare to look at how others are doing.
Dancing is for everyone. And its power is secret to no-one. Dancing is universal and maybe that’s why it is so great.