Turn the radio up! Chilling with your favourite jazz. Listening to old favourites that take you back to your teenage years… The power of music to lift your mood is amazing, but we have a sneaking suspicion that the feel-good factor goes through the roof when you are dancing to music you love.
We are huge fans of social dancing because it makes exercising easy and has significant health benefits, but dancing isn’t just good for your health, it’s also great for your mental wellbeing.
We had so much fun digging into all the ways that dancing boosts your general health we’re back checking out the research into the awesome mental health, feel good factors of social dancing. Follow our lead and check out why dancing is sooo good for you!
Dancing is brilliant brain training that boosts your memory
You can try puzzles or crosswords to keep your brain active, but dancing does the same job plus gets you out and about. According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, dancing may boost your memory and prevent you from developing dementia as you get older. Research has revealed that aerobic exercise (like dancing) can reverse the volume loss in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls memory, which naturally shrinks during late adulthood and can lead to impaired memory and sometimes dementia.
Bonus thought: Dancing doesn’t just help you become more graceful it also helps you age gracefully.
Dancing makes your smarter…
Dancing socially requires heaps of split second and last-minute decisions as you weave your way around the dance floor. It’s all part of the fun as you avoid other dancers, decide to zoom into a space on the dance floor or bust out a signature move. Whether you are leading (usually the man’s role) or following (typically the women’s role) social dancing and dealing with new situations improves our mental capacity, sharpens our reflexes and shortens our mental reaction time. And this new smarter you translates across everything you do.
Bonus thought: Dancing also makes you better looking! Standing tall, not tripping over your feet, feeling good are all very attractive traits.
Dancing reduces stress…
At Social Dance Company, we have always believed that social dancing is a great stress buster. Students tell us all the time that their weekly lesson is their “de-stress” time when they can forget all about work, problems at home and even the kids as they enjoy focusing on themselves and their dancing for 45 minutes. It’s great to see the experts agree. In a controlled study published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology researchers found that partner dancing to music can help bring about stress relief. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkiller that reduce stress and improves our mind’s perception of the world. So, after a good dance session the endorphins cause the body to feel calm and optimistic.
Bonus thought: Endorphins also help improve the quality of sleep so that a few sleepless nights due to stress can be avoided after a session on the dance floor.
Dancing dims depression
Swedish researchers studied more than 100 teenage girls who were struggling with issues like depression and anxiety. In the study, half of the girls attended a weekly dance class while the others didn’t; results showed that the girls who took the weekly classes improved their mental health and reported a boost in their mood. These positive benefits lasted up to 8 months after the dance classes. That’s impressive, and other studies showed that patients who participated in an upbeat group dance showed the fewest depression symptoms and the most vitality.
Bonus thought: If you are struggling with depression, try dance as a form of therapy, keeping in mind dancing should never replace help from a mental health professional, one on one lessons with an understanding instructor can be a great way to see if dancing helps your situation.
Dancing improves your self confidence
At the studio we are hooked on what we call “the Cinderella Moment” when a previously shy student shows up one day in something that makes them standout… like a new haircut, a pretty skirt, smart new shirt or different makeup. It’s the first sign of their growing confidence and that they are comfortable in the studio environment. It’s a real buzz to see these changes firsthand and research has shown that dancing increases the endorphins that make us feel good and lift our mood. And when we are feeling good, we feel better about ourselves and feel more comfortable in our skin.
Bonus thought: If you struggle talking to people you’ve only just met or in a social situation social dancing can help you conquer some of those fears in a supportive environment
Dancing increases your social connections
Dancing by nature is a very social activity. There’s a real sense of occasion when you go to a social dance, people like to dress up and there’s usually as much chatting as there is dancing. From asking a person to dance to leading them onto the floor and courteously thanking them for the dance it’s based around old fashioned values like respect and trust. Dancing is a great way to get close and personal without being at risk and dance studios are great places to meet people, make new friends and grow your social network.
Bonus thought: When your body feels good your mind does too
Dancing brings out your creative side
Most of us have jobs where it’s all about rules, regulations and routine. There’s not always space for showing your creativity. Dancing gives you a chance to forget the 9 till 5 and explore your creativity with the steps you use, the moves you make and the energy you create.
Bonus Thought: Dancing also gets those muscles moving when you’ve been sitting at a desk all day
It looks like all the experts agree that dancing is good for you so whether you are an experienced social dancer or a newbie interested in giving it a go remember dancing can be as valuable to you as your gym membership, your dietician or your GP. Interested in dancing your way to better health and a great life? Check out our website at www.sdcompany.com.au.