Most people are aware that spending time on the dance floor makes you feel good. From nightclubs, parties, and weddings through to aerobics classes and formal dance classes, moving your body can also effectively lift your mood and beneficial for mental health.
The physical benefits of dance are well-known. By exercising, you can:
- Improve heart health
- Strengthen and tone muscles
- Sharpen coordination and balance
Although a nascent field, there is also a growing body of research into the mental health benefits of dance. The best news? You can achieve these benefits regardless of the type of dancing you enjoy, and whatever your age and demographic.
Why Is Dancing So Good For the Brain?
The brain is a holistic system. This means that what impacts one area of the brain can impact all other areas of the brain. This applies to both positive and negative impacts.
Dancing is an activity capable of positively affecting all regions of your brain. As you focus on the flow of dance moves, this naturally leads to mindfulness (being openly attentive to the present moment). Mindfulness can be a powerful tool for combating anxiety. As you become more
confident through mastering new dance moves, this triggers an uptick in self-esteem. In turn, this can help tamp down any social anxiety you feel.
A meta-analysis of current research shows that dance can not only improve mindfulness and decrease emotional distress but can also lead to an enhanced overall quality of life. So, taking your first steps into a dance class may feel intimidating and overwhelming, but the benefits generated will be worthwhile and exponential.
5 Core Mental Health Benefits of Dancing
- Dancing can help reduce anxiety and depression
- Improve social connection through dance classes
- Mastering new skills will boost your self-esteem
- Gain more confidence by getting outside your comfort zone
- Sharpen cognitive function and stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s through dance
Dancing can help reduce anxiety and depression
Dancing triggers the release of endorphins, hormones associated with increased happiness and improved mood. A single vigorous dance session can lift a low mood.
This small Swedish study showed that teenage girls grappling with depression and anxiety who attended a weekly dance class reported boosted mood and improved overall mental health. These positive effects persisted for up to eight months after the cessation of dance classes. Researchers concluded that dance potentially resulted in a positive experience for mental health and could also contribute to the creation and maintenance of healthy new habits.
Improve social connection through dance classes
Loneliness and isolation can both inflame depression and lower mood.
If you find it tough to meet new people – maybe you’re newly sober after a stint in a Huntington Beach Rehab, for instance – joining a dance class gives you immediate access to like-minded people engaging in a healthy pursuit.
Once you start dancing within a group setting, you’ll find this helps you to feel more connected and it should help with social bonding. Crucially, spending time with a fresh group of people can be remarkably stimulating if you have been caught in a rut.
Mastering new skills will boost your self-esteem
How much do you value and respect yourself? This amounts to your self-esteem, and once you prove to yourself that you can readily master new skills like dance moves, you’ll find your self-esteem gets a welcome boost.
Like starting any new activity, it may take you a few sessions to feel more comfortable and confident, but you’ll soon find yourself feeling like a million dollars when you leave the dance studio, feeling energized and with a spring in your step.
Gain more confidence by getting outside your comfort zone
If you start enjoying dance classes and decide to fully commit, practicing and mastering dance routines demands both motivation and perseverance. As you move further beyond your comfort zone, you’ll start feeling more accomplished, and this translates to an overall improvement in confidence.
Expressing yourself through dance without inhibition can be a powerful release, and you’ll again feel more confident, with less social anxiety.
Sharpen cognitive function and stave off Dementia & Alzheimer’s through dance
Dancing can strengthen your brain muscles as well as the muscles in your body. As you learn new styles of dance and specific dance routines, this trains your brain to remember these details, potentially delaying the onset of dementia.
The more you dance, the sharper your focus should become. In addition to improving your concentration skills, dance also builds your pattern recognition skills.
The cumulative effects of these cognitive benefits could contribute to a decreased risk of both Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The mental benefits of dancing hinge on the type of dance. Styles calling for improvisation have a stronger positive influence on decision-making skills than styles based on routines and memorized movement.
All that counts is choosing a dance class that meshes with your needs and you could start feeling much better, emotionally as well as physically.