I hope you dance: Discover the health benefits of dancing

Enjoy the expression and health benefits of dancing.
Dancing can be a social activity and a way to connect with a community of like-minded individuals.
Dancing can be a social activity and a way to connect with a community of like-minded individuals. [ YURI ARCURS PEOPLEIMAGES.COM | Getty Images/iStockphoto ]
Published April 7

By Erin Feitsma, Times Total Media Correspondent

Unlike George Michael, who famously crooned, “I’m never gonna dance again,” you, in fact, should embrace dancing. Not only can it be expressive and a lot of fun, but dancing can also have some nifty health benefits. Read on to discover how adding a bit of dance to your life can give your health a boost. *insert “Careless Whisper” saxophone solo here*

Dancing is heart-healthy

Take heart: Even if you’re not a fan of typical cardio workouts like running or swimming, dance can serve as a playful and enjoyable alternative that’s good for your health. According to a 2016 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, people who participated in moderate-intensity dancing were 46 percent less likely to develop heart disease, or die from it, than nondancers over 10 years of follow-up. So, next time you lace up your dancing shoes (ours are a black patent leather), remember that you’re doing your heart a favor.

Dancing can keep you connected

Dancing can also be a social activity and a way to connect with a community of like-minded individuals. Attending dance classes at a local organization like the YMCA can help you brush up on your skills, form new friendships and learn about different types of dances. Not only that, but studies have shown that dancing can be a good self-esteem booster. The benefits of dancing abound!

Dancing can improve your mental health

Not only can dancing boost both your social life and self-esteem, but it can also improve other aspects of your mental health. For instance, studies have shown that dancing can decrease anxiety. It might also be able to make you mentally sharper overall: Studies show that dancing helps us think and can improve the parts of the brain in charge of memory and organization. One study from The New England Journal of Medicine even suggests that dancing can help prevent dementia.

Dancing can help your physical health, too

Dancing gets you moving, and it can be great for your balance. Especially the tango! Research from the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity has found that tango dancing can improve balance in older adults. Ballet is another type of dance known to help improve balance as well as flexibility.

Dancing can help you lose weight

A bonus side effect of the joy that is dancing is weight loss. In fact, a study from the Journal of Physiological Anthropology reports that aerobic dance training can help you shred the same amount of pounds as biking or jogging. This is especially encouraging if running or riding a bike just isn’t your thing. Instead, get your dance on!

Dancing can strengthen your bones

You’re a born dancer, it’s in your bones! Or, in this case, it might actually help your bones. The National Osteoporosis Foundation has found that high-impact, weight-bearing exercises, like certain types of dances, can promote bone strength and even help build new bone mass, which slows down the progression of osteoporosis.

Dancing can reduce stress

Are you a stress eater or stress cleaner? Why not become a stress dancer instead? Sure, precious few have claimed to be stress dancers, but as dance is a natural stress reliever, there’s benefits to be had in giving it a try. A study from the Journal of Applied Gerontology found that dancing with a partner to some tunes can lower stress levels. So, put on some pop music (or hip-hop, country or emo) and leave your troubles on the dance floor. When in doubt, dance it out, and prove George Michael wrong.

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