We’re dancers here at AFC Doctors Express.
Some of us shake it in Zumba class, some in Jazzercise and a few of us do that Dancing With The Stars thingy, just with a little less flair in our local ballroom dance club.
But whether it’s a few steps around your living room or a line dance with friends, dancing can have immediate health benefits, as well as long-term effects for life. Dancing is a popular, doctor-recommended activity that offers cardiovascular exercise, social interaction and other health benefits to keep you moving! Although the benefits vary based on the type of dance routine you choose, dancing is still a great way to keep your body healthy.
Mood Lifter – Whether you are in a depression that you can’t explain, or you’re angry at the world, the ability to lose yourself in dance can help lift any mood. The Mayo Clinic has cited dance-based exercises, such as Zumba, as great ways to boost your mood.
Stress-Reliever – Dancing gives your mind something else to focus on, allowing you to slowly de-stress and concentrate on feeling better. Dancing also releases endorphins in the same way that running does, giving you the same elevated feeling at the end of your workout.
Self-Monitor – When you dance, you gain better awareness of your body and how it moves. You can feel what parts of your body need more activity and what parts need to be strengthened. By learning your body’s limits, you learn how to prevent injury and will know if something doesn’t feel right later on.
Improved Muscle Tone and Weight Management- Depending on the routine, dancing can provide concentrated exercise to specific areas on your body, as well as full-body exercises. Ballet, for instance, consists of holding various poses which work deep muscle tissue across the entire body. A more lively dance routine like the salsa or tango targets your waistline and hips.
Improved Flexibility and Balance – Daily and even weekly dancing can help you find your center of gravity and make balancing easier. Healthguidance.org says that certain dance activities can work to strengthen the smaller muscles that play a big role in your ability to balance.
Improved Self-Confidence- Whether it’s mastering a routine or learning to feel comfortable in public, dancing with a group or with a partner can help you build self-confidence. Dancing can be both a social and private event, allowing you to grow comfortable in your own skin and comfortable around others.
Stronger Heart- AARP found that dancing not only strengthens your heart and lowers your risk of high blood pressure, but it also decreases your risk of a stroke. Ballroom dance and salsa have been found to have the biggest effect on heart health, because dancers are able to maintain a healthy target heart rate.
Stronger Mind- The New England Journal of Medicine conducted a study in 2003 to see if regular physical activity could reduce the risk of dementia and memory loss. Dancing provided the biggest reduction in risk even when compared to bicycling, doing crossword puzzles and playing a sport.
Stronger Bones- Just like our muscles, bones grow stronger through exercise and use. The International Osteoporosis Foundationrecommends dancing for both children with developing bones, young adults and women. Dancing increases bone density for children and maintains it in adults, allowing for bones that are less likely to fracture.
Injury Rehabilitation – When recovering from an injury, slow and steady is the best way to go. A health letter written by the Mayo Clinic states that dancing can be a positive alternative to jogging. This is because it is a low-impact way of allowing gradual movement and rotation, without added risk of further injury.
Energy Booster – Dancing not only wakes up all your muscles, but it increases blood flow and causes you to breathe more, providing your body with more oxygen. All these things combined equal higher levels of alertness, wellness and energy.
As with all forms of exercise it is important to start slow and gradually work up to more complicated routines. Be sure to research different styles of dance to see which one might work for you, whether it be slow with low-impact, or fast-paced and intense. Finally, always make sure to monitor how you feel and be sure to contact a medical professional or drop in to see us and get checked out by our doctors if you notice anything irregular.