We love… Dancing

Dancing has always put me in a better mood… which, now that I think about it, might explain why I’ve been such a grump over the last couple of months where I’ve not made time for it (shame on me). I’ve always loved dancing, and I guess my love for dance stems from my love of music. Now don’t get me wrong, if you caught me dancing, you may run to my aid thinking I was experiencing a series of muscular spasms, but that’s the beauty of dancing. You can’t really mess it up. On top of that, there’s a whole range of styles, so there’s bound to be one for you!

Dance styles:

Hip-hop is a dynamic form of dance featuring “street-style” movements. This will give you a great cadio workout and help in strength, balance, and agility.  

Belly dancing is a rhythmic form of dance that has its roots in Egypt and emphasises movements of the hips and torso. If you’re looking to engage your core, arms, and hips, this is for you. 

Ballet is a highly technical form of dance, it’s classic and graceful with the added benefits of improved flexibility, balance, and core strength. Many feel they’ve missed the boat if they didn’t take lessons as a kid, but that’s far from the truth. Ballet is for everyone and it’s never too late to start learning it as an adult. 

Salsa is an energetic style of dance with Latin American, Caribbean, and African influences. Because it’s a mixture of Latin dances, there’s several styles of salsa and each comes with its own flavour. If you’re looking to bond with your partner, or meet new people, joining a salsa class might be right up your street.

Tap is quite cool because you’re both the instrument and the dancer. It involves using the sound of tap shoes striking the floor as a form of percussion. 

• My go-to has always been freestyling in the comfort of my own living room. It’s a way for me to completely escape from the stresses of everyday life and reset. There are no rules to follow here – just blast some of your favourite songs and do whatever feels natural. 

And if the range of dance forms wasn’t enough to pique your interest, scientists have done plenty of research that back up my claims of dance being the best workout in the world. Ok… maybe not that explicit claim, but close enough – they’ve found that the health benefits of dance are pretty extensive.  

Health benefits of dancing:

To name but a few…

• Improves memory and cognition1,2,3
   o Studies have shown that specific types of dancing can improve mood and cognitive skills like decision making and visual recognition, as well as help create new connections between brain regions involved in long-term memory and executive function. It can also reduce the risk of developing dementia.

• Improves mood and reduces stress levels1,2,4
   o Research has shown that dance can increase levels of feel-good endorphins and reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

• Improves agility and flexibility5,6
   o Cross-country skiers who received dance training showed improvements in spine flexibility, and joint mobility, as well as enhanced speed and agility. 

• Enhances cardiovascular health7
   o Research has found that regular moderate-intensity dancing is associated with a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease. And it’s worth mentioning that this benefit is more pronounced for dance than it is for walking.

• Improves balance and coordination8
   o One study found that social dancing improved balance and walking speed in people above 80 years of age.

Remember, dancing is for everyone – no matter your age, shape, or size – even if you’ve got two left feet. It’s a form of self-expression and has been for thousands of years. Whether you’re demanding an audience to watch you whip and nae nae or dancing like no one’s watching in your kitchen, it’s freeing and fun… not to mention full of benefits. After all, you can’t ignore the fact that Missy Elliot has personally instructed you to ‘Get Ur Freak On’… and we wouldn’t want you to be the source of her disappointment. 

References:
1. Harvard Medical School. Dancing and the Brain. 2015. https://hms.harvard.edu/news-events/publications-archive/brain/dancing-brain Accessed on April 5th, 2022.
2. Verghese et al. N Engl J Med. 2003; 348:2508-2516
3. Burzynska AZ et al. Front Aging Neurosci. 2017;16(9):59.
4. Tarr B et al. Front Psychol. 2014;5:1096.
5. Alricsson M et al. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2003;13(4):237-43.
6. Alricsson M, Werner S. Br J Sports Med. 2004;38(2):148-53.
7. Merom D et al. Am J Prev Med. 2016;50(6):756-760.
8. Verghese J. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2006;54(8):1241-4.