Have you ever had one of those days where the music starts playing in the supermarket and you cannot help but tap your foot to the rhythm? Suddenly, the innocent little foot tap has moved to some uncoordinated moves and hip sways until the staggering realisation that you are in a public place. And that indeed, you were almost dancing as if no one were watching.
In moments like this you may notice a feeling of lightness and a smile on your dial. You were dancing because you were happy, but did you ever consider that the dancing is what made you happy?
Most of us now live predominantly sedentary lives working in an office or home office, spending our days sitting on chairs and staring into screens. We might occasionally get up to use the bathroom, grab a drink of water or a snack, but overwhelmingly we are confined to minimal movement and physical change. Our livelihoods no longer depend on the roaming nature of our ancestors and instead are restricted to mental rather than physical stimulation.
It’s time to take back control of your movement and boost your energy by getting your blood pumping with your body’s natural response to happiness. Get your dancing shoes on and reap the benefits, whether it’s having a dance break at work, getting down on the dance floor at a club or getting yourself to a dance class. Let’s look at all the benefits dance can bring to your body, mind and soul.
1. Dancing releases endorphins
Just like any other form of exercise, getting your muscles working and heart rate up releases endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals which interact with receptors in your brain to reduce pain and trigger positive feelings in your body. They have been found to reduce stress, ward off feelings of depression, boost self-esteem, improve sleep, all the while strengthening your heart and lowering your blood pressure.
2. Dancing is great exercise
Dancing is a fantastic way to get fit because you’re having too much fun to notice the amount of energy and effort you are putting into the movement. Unlike going to the gym with a specific distance to run, or repetitions to pump out, you can attend a dance class or just jam out to your favourite tunes at home and get lost in the music. After an hour of moderate dancing, you will find yourself having burnt 360 calories!
3. Dancing can destress you
Whether it’s due to the music, or the beat, you will find your mind shift focus while you are dancing. You get a chance to tune out of your days worries or problems and slip into the moment of pure and simple happiness. Think of it as a form of meditation.
4. Dancing improves your cognition
It has been found that dancing improves your spatial awareness, along with additional cognitive benefits. A 2008 study from the Scientific American found that when pairing movement with music, the music stimulated the brain’s reward centres while dancing activated sensory and motor circuits. This combination found that people who danced had improved problem solving skills along with an elevated mood and positive outlook after their sessions. So it’s safe to say, dancing makes you smarter!
5. Dancing can help expand your social circle
If you join a class, you will find yourself surrounded by a new group of people with whom you can connect with over a shared passion. You will learn together, struggle through new steps, make some new dance friends, and support each other. After a long day’s work, or the stresses of life, you can meet up with your dance friends and dance the troubles away. Dance floors at clubs or festivals are also a great way to meet new, fun friends.
6. Dancing can heal
There was a study undertaken in 2013 of teenagers who suffered from anxiety, depression, and stress with symptoms which included neck and back pain. After attending two dance classes per week the students who stuck with the program for two years showed significant improvement in psychosomatic symptoms and more regular feelings of positivity. Regular movement and engaging many muscle groups in your body can also strengthen your spine which helps in alleviating back, shoulder, and neck pain.
7. Dancing allows you to disconnect
While you are moving on a dance floor, learning new choreography, trying to imprint steps in your mind you will certainly not have a moment to spare to scroll through your social media feeds. The hour (or potentially more) dedicated to dance will be an hour of time carved out just for you and your body and to get away from technology. It is so easy to pick up our phones during any spare moment, so why not dedicate some time to music and your body instead?
Whether you decide to join a hip-hop class, hula hooping, aerobics or even twerking class you will find yourself looking forward to this time every week as “me time”. Raise your mood and your heart rate by challenging yourself to get out of your comfort zone, make new friends, and gain all of the benefits that dancing can give your body and soul.
Maybe after a couple of classes, the next time that tune comes on in a public place, you will find yourself dancing and hoping that everyone IS watching.