Posted by: tk729 | October 29, 2010

Take it to the Dance Floor

Next time you feel the music taking over, let go, and express yourself.

Various studies have learned that dancing is both great for the body and mind. Whether you dance to country, pop, hip hop, or latin sounds, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) says that dancing can:

  • Lower your risk of coronary heart disease
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Help you manage your weight
  • Strengthen the bones of your legs and hips

Many of us aware that dancing is a great physical activity, but the following article highlights the significant impact dancing has on our mental health.

In addition, I want to mention that dancing is a unique because it allows people to engage in a social activity.  This allows for positive relationships and stimulating the mind to benefit from healthy interactions from others.

I have also found that creating and developing your own style of dance is very fulfilling to say the least.  For me, it’s any style of dance that has urban roots.  There are many dancers out there that have inspired me to learn what I am capable of with motion and movement.  Always appreciate the dance of others and see how that influences you.

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Improving Mental Health through Dance

Dance has been shown to lift mood more than exercise by itself. In a study at the University of London researchers assigned patients with anxiety disorders to spend time in one of four therapeutic settings – a modern-dance class, a regular exercise class, a music class, or a math class. Only the dance class was shown to significantly reduce anxiety. Cardiac-Rehabilitation patients in a recent Italian study who enrolled in waltzing classes not only ended up with healthier arteries but were happier than those who went to bicycle and treadmill training. The effects of dance are increased and enhanced by the use of music which is also a factor in mood enhancement.

MRI scans show that watching someone dance activates the same neurons that would fire if you yourself were doing the dancing. So when one dancer’s movements express joy or sadness, others often pick up on it as well, so spreading the feeling and fostering empathy. Gabrielle Kaufman, a Los Angeles dance therapist has this to say “Dance’s expressive aspects help people process feelings they have trouble dealing with in conscious, verbal terms.” “Dance allows people to experience themselves in ways they didn’t know they could” says Miriam Berger, a dance professor and dance therapist at New York University, “You can change your internal state through external movement.”

A dance teacher usually but not always teaches a specific form of dance, for example, ballet, tap, ballroom, folk, latin, etc. He or she is concerned primarily with technique and the outward appearance of the dance whilst at the same time being aware of the psychological aspects. A dance therapist on the other hand more usually employs free dance, improvisational or inspirational dance with the student or patient encouraging them to create their own personal expression.There is no criticism in dance therapy classes – no right or wrong way. This unconditional acceptance is important to the participants. At the same time the therapist is consciously working towards helping the person to find within themselves catharsis, solutions and resolution to problems through dance. The dancers find the answers without words from within themselves. Dance therapy can have immediate and unexpected results. On occasion deeply buried blockages are resolved. Dance is a right brained activity and the left brain with its critical commentary is quietened down. This allows our subconscious and intuitive levels to function.

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Responses

  1. This is very deep, and something I’ve never really thought about before, but I think it definitely is true.

  2. One thing I found interesting was that I’ve never really compared dancing to other forms of exercise in terms of its effects on mood.

  3. I love to dance in my living room, making up moves, and being silly! I’m glad to hear that it’s healthy for me too. My husband, on the other hand, does not like dancing. I’m sure he’d like to know that just watching someone else dance gives similar benefits.

  4. After I read this article I went to see if I could add a dance class in to my schedule next semester! And I am taking Ballet! Dancing, for me, is a much more enjoyable form of exercise than any other form of exercise!

  5. I didn’t really like to dance but I think I need to learn how to enjoy dancing since it’s healthy for us. I remember one of my friends loved dancing and she thought of dancing as part of her exercise.

  6. My favorite form of dance is clogging (similar to tap dance) and I am part of a very high level competition team. I just started with this studio last year and I have seen great benefits including physical, social and mental improvements. I leave class with my body tired and sweaty, my mind stretched and full and my spirit strengthened by the friendships I have with my teammates. I think everyone should find an activity that connects all three elements, physical, mental, and spiritual/social. Dance is one of the best options I have found and I love it!

  7. Dancing is something I really enjoy doing. Is one of the ways I can express myself and relieve stress. Is something I grew up doing in my culture, Latin dancing, and is something that is within me that I love doing.

  8. Dancing is what i LOVE to do, especially during stressful times I have a break to just dance and it helps reduce the stress and tension levels I am feeling at the time. Dancing is a great way for one to express themselves and to stay active and be healthy.

  9. I was watching a movie with a friend of mine and there’s a scene where this girl is dancing and singing in her room by herself to a song on the radio. And then he just looked at me and said, “man, that’s weird.” And I said, “wait…you didn’t you do that as a kid?” And then I got a blank stare. So, I agree that dancing is a way to get happy, and I’m sure that I’m not the only one who used to dance and sing in my room by myself when I was younger. Because it’s awesome.

  10. I really appreciated this post! This past year I have come to really like dancing. Even though I can’t dance very well, I can still move to the beat. And it feels so good! I really do believe in what was said about dancing improving your mental health. It’s done just that for me!

  11. Oh my goodness, I LOVED this post! I started Irish dance in high school, and quickly figured out how much of an anxiety reliever it is. And yes, watching dance does bring me this sort of euphoric feeling sometimes. Now, knowing some of the research behind the physiological and mental effects, I’m even more excited that I don’t necessarily have to go to the gym to get in my exercise and endorphin-high. Dance therapy is an interesting concept too…

  12. I believe in spontaneous dance parties. When I was an EFY counselor, we would randomly start dancing. And of course there were the Tuesday and Friday dances. It was a great stress reliever and brought people together.


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