Most of us are familiar with the great feeling we get from spending time on the dance floor. From weddings and holiday parties to aerobic classes or even dance lessons, moving our body often lifts our mood. Turns out dancing can improve our mental health, and there’s a scientific explanation behind those mood-boosting moves.
The Power of Dancing
Research shows there are many benefits to dance. Dance improves your heart health, overall muscle strength, balance and coordination, and reduces depression. These benefits are noticeable across a variety of ages and demographics.
Swedish researchers studied more than 100 teenage girls who were struggling with issues such as depression and anxiety. Half of the girls attended weekly dance classes, while the other half didn’t. The results? Girls who participated in dance classes improved their mental health and reported a boost in their mood. These positive effects lasted up to eight months after the dance classes ended. Researchers concluded dance can result in increased self-esteem for participants and potentially contribute to sustained new healthy habits.
Teens aren’t the only ones who can dance their way to better mental health. Senior citizens (and adults of all ages) can reap the benefits too. A small group of seniors, ages 65-91, was studied in North Dakota. After taking 12 weeks of Zumba (a dance fitness class), the seniors reported improved moods and cognitive skills- not to mention increased strength and agility.
Healing Through Dance
Aside from the benefits of movement and music, dancing also allows us to become more connected and social. Forming new friendships or rekindling old relationships are wonderful side effects of dance. These social interactions can play a huge role in improving your mood and mental health.
If you are struggling with depression, consider trying dance as a form of therapy. While dancing should never replace seeking professional help, it can be one tool you use to stay healthy. A formal dance class, exercise class, or even grooving alone in your room could be enough to make a difference. Looking for motivation to get started? We have some suggestions that should help get you moving!
Dance your way through history with the evolution of dance- https://youtu.be/dMH0bHeiRNg
Groove to one of Pharrell William’s catchiest hits- https://youtu.be/y6Sxv-sUYtM
Move to the infectious tune of the Isley Brother’s iconic “Shout”- https://youtu.be/nEjLFpU2pJ4
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2016 and has been edited and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.