Dancing has been one of the most favorite human pastimes since the beginning of time. It’s no wonder, when this fun and easy activity has so many physical, mental and social benefits, and people of all ages, social statuses and genders can enjoy it equally. So, here are just some of the reasons for you to ditch the gym and hit the dance floor.
It gives you better balance
One in every three senior adults will fall in 2018 and possibly experience a life-threatening injury. So, what can keep you protected from accidents such as this? Well, the answer might be dancing! Many different types of research show that dancing can help improve balance and minimize the possibility of dangerous falls. Even frail elderly people who don’t have a lot of mobility can benefit from dancing. Regular dancing shows improvement in their gait, speed and reaction time, and fine-tunes their motor performance.
It keeps your heart healthy
Dancing will definitely get your heart rate up which is great for keeping your heart strong and healthy. Even people with chronic heart failure can benefit from doing a little jig. Dancing that involves both slow and fast intervals improves heart and blood vessel functions, just like a senior aerobic exercise program (but it’s much more fun).
It helps you control your weight
If you dance for an hour, you can expect to burn around 240 calories. Fast dances like swing can help you burn about 350 calories, but the definite winner is aerobic dance with a whopping 500 calories burned per hour! So, it’s as effective as the gym and much more enjoyable and fun. Just make sure to check with your doctor if it’s okay to really break a sweat.
It helps build muscles
Once you start dancing, you’ll feel muscles you didn’t even know you had! For instance, ballroom dancing includes a lot of different and unusual moves like going backwards. This works the back of your thighs as well as your buttocks in a different way than any gym exercise. You also need a strong core to move your arms and legs in a flashy way. So, if you find a regular gym routine boring or you feel like you need a little change from the dumbbells, strap on your dance shoes and swing!
It’s good for your joints and tendons
Burning calories and building muscle isn’t the only reason to hit the dance floor. Dancing, just like hiking and trail running, engages your lower-body joints much better than walking or running on flat ground or a treadmill. This up-and-down, side-to-side action almost every dance requires activates your joints better and works support muscles and tendons.
Keeps your brain working
Dancing doesn’t only work your muscles, but also keeps your brains sharp. Dancing to any sort of music is linked to the improved integrity of white matter in the brain, especially in older adults. White matter works similarly to connective tissue, but it tends to break down as people age. This can lead to many problems, such as the loss of processing speed, thinking and memory problems. So, getting freaky on the dance floor on a regular basis can actually reduce dementia risk just as much as chess or playing an instrument. Learning complicated dance moves and choreographies is especially challenging and good for keeping your brain occupied and sharp. Other physical activities like walking or cycling don’t provide any decreased risk of dementia, though.
Improves your mood
Aside from all of the aforementioned physical benefits, dancing also has a bunch of psychological benefits. For decades now, therapists have been prescribing this fun physical activity as a therapy for depression, anxiety, stress and fear of public speaking. The general idea is that if you feel comfortable to let your freak flag fly on the dance floor in front of strangers, you’ll improve your anxiety when speaking to an audience. Dancing is also great for your mood. Music and movement have a positive effect on how we feel and they can boost your endorphins and oxytocin that makes you feel happier. So, if you suffer from depression, anxiety or you simply want to improve your mood, play some music and get dancing.
Dancing is usually a social activity, so it’s not a surprise that it encourages bonding and socializing with people from different age groups and backgrounds. Research shows that moving and grooving with strangers helps blur the barrier between people and helps you connect with people faster and easier. Dance classes that involve choreographed dance especially create the feeling of connectedness. You can even organize an amateur dance contest, since a little friendly competition is always good. Have the judges pick the best dancers, give out pretty dance trophies and everyone will certainly feel amazing after a night like this.
Offers body contact
Last, but not least, dancing is often an activity that is done in pairs and this touch aspect of dancing also has numerous benefits. Touch is basically the first sensation we feel when we are born and we learn to cherish it all through our lives. When researching the benefits of massage, grooming, holding hands and other forms of physical contact, scientists came to the conclusion that it greatly reduces stress and anxiety and improves the general well-being of people.
So, basically, there is absolutely no downside to dancing and incorporating it into your exercise routine. It will keep you fit, healthy, sharp and happy and you’ll have the time of your life. So, play some funky music and dance, dance, dance!