The feelings I get from a night of dancing are like no other – freedom, expression, joy. That’s because dance, when combined with music, is just that powerful in promoting a sense of well-being. Whether learning a specific type of dance in a class, freestyle dancing at a club, or boggying down in your kitchen, there are many reasons to dance.
Dance is physical activity and provides lots of health benefits. Dance allows you to use more of your muscle groups for overall toning, improves balance and flexibility, which can help you avoid injuries from falling, and increases endurance, which helps keep your heart healthy.
Beyond these physical health benefits, releasing pent-up emotions through dance can pave the way for feelings of relief. You can literally dance the blues away – and there’s research to prove it. Like other forms of artistic expression, dance helps people process feelings that they might have trouble dealing with in words.
Brain scans show that even watching someone dance activates the same neurons as if you were the one doing the dancing. So when a dancer's movements express joy or sadness, spectators often pick up on these feelings as well. Dance is so effective at improving mental health that dance therapy is often used to help people experiencing anxiety, depression and grief, while boosting self-esteem. Dancing is also a social activity and provides opportunities for making new friends. Plus, it’s fun!
To get started, see what types of dance might appeal to you. You can watch video demonstrations to learn various dance styles. You can also find dance lessons in your area, or if money’s tight, check your local library for instructional dance videos.
Whether it’s Salsa, Swing, Waltz, Hip Hop, African, Tap, Break Dancing, Modern, Jazz, Cha-Cha, Contra, Country Western – or whatever style piques your interest – put on your dancing shoes and give it a try!