Health-conscious people of all ages seek a better, more enjoyable quality of life through improved physicality. They strive for improved cardiovascular health, muscle strength, endurance, aerobic fitness, weight management, strong bones, reduced risk of osteoporosis, slowed aging, less risk of falling, and more sheer happiness. There is a daunting abundance of expert advice, food products, supplements, sports activities, and exercise equipment to help fitness seekers achieve their goals.
Who knew that one activity, DANCE, offers all of these health benefits and FUN as well?!
Health professionals and exercise physiologists from a variety of prestigious institutions, such as the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the New England Journal of Medicine, and Berkeley Wellness, found that DANCE is enormously beneficial to body and brain health, as well as emotional/relational well-being.
Physical Benefits of DANCE
Fabio Comana, an exercise physiologist and education team member of the National Academy of Sports Medicine, researched five components of fitness – cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, muscular endurance, body composition, and muscular strength – comparing how a variety of exercises resulted in improvements in these five areas. He concluded that various exercises had a few improvements, but only DANCE could claim improvements in all five. In addition, DANCE resulted in improved balance, agility, and coordination. Comana concluded, “What I like about DANCE is DANCE is free flowing. It’s less traumatic on the body than an aerobic class.”
The New England Journal of Medicine noted that especially for seniors, dancing can improve balance, ultimately reducing dangerous falls. Berkeley Wellness added that DANCE also improved “gait, walking speed, reaction time, and cognitive and fine motor performance.”
What about weight control? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 40% of American adults and almost 20% of adolescents are obese – the highest rates ever recorded. Again, DANCE is an answer. Berkeley Wellness reported, “On average, a 150 pound person burns about 240 calories” per hour dancing.
Sasha, 33, was born crippled with a crooked spine and weak legs. His mother enrolled him in DANCE classes at age three; by the age of six, he won his first DANCE competition and became his country’s national champion dancer for the next eight years.
Ann, 72, danced for years before needing a major surgery. Her surgeon predicted she would fare well because of her high level of physical fitness. Indeed, she returned to DANCE in half the normal recovery time.
Mental Benefits of DANCE
The Journal of the American Medical Association recently stated, “The number of older people with dementia is expected to triple by 2050 in the U.S. because of the growth of the older population.” In 2003, researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine determined that DANCE can decidedly improve brain health. Researchers studied the effects of 11 different physical activities including cycling, gulf, swimming, and tennis, but found that only DANCE lowered participants’ risk of dementia. In fact, DANCE done on a regular basis showed a 76% reduction in dementia risk.
Emotional/Relational Benefits of DANCE
Berkeley Wellness reported, “Dancing is good for your mood. It has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety and stress, boost self-esteem, body image, coping ability, and overall sense of well-being.” The authors of a meta-analysis of 27 studies published in “Arts in Psychotherapy” encouraged DANCE as treatment for depression and anxiety.
Fictions and Facts
Fiction: I have two left feet.
Fact: “Teach the brain what to do and the body follows.” – Dieter Kast
Fiction: I’m shy.
Fact: “Dancing lessons are an easy, low-pressure way to meet people.” – Fred Astaire
Fiction: It’s difficult.
Fact: No, it’s FUN. “Dance is the hidden language of the soul, of the body.” – Martha Graham
Fiction: I’m too busy now.
Fact: “Life is short and there will always be dirty dishes, so let’s DANCE!” – Jesse Howe
Fiction: I’m too old.
Fact: “One should dance while one still can.” – Marty Rubin
Fiction: I’m too stressed.
Fact: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to DANCE in the rain!” – Vivian Greene