Dancing is a fun, social activity, but it’s also great exercise for both your body and mind. Studies have found that dancing reduces stress, increases levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin, and helps develop new neural connections, especially in regions of the brain responsible for things like decision making and long-term memory. Whether you’re a born mover or more of a wallflower, there are many ways to dance, and everyone can benefit from making it part of their health and wellness routine.
Even the most basic moves can improve your balance, flexibility, and endurance. Start by trying simple exercises at home or in the gym, such as standing in one place bouncing your knees and twisting your torso a bit while swinging your arms around. You’ll soon see that the movements aren’t as hard as they seem. If you watch movies or TV shows where extras are dancing in the background, they’re often doing the same thing.
For those with more limbs to spare, try taking a dance class at a local community center or recreational facility. Dance classes are often geared toward all ages and abilities, including those with physical or cognitive limitations. A large number of studies have found that people who participate in a dance program see improved balance, walking, coordination, pain, mood and cognition. Most of the benefits seen in these studies were realized after about 8 weeks, but some have shown longer-term improvements. These improvements are thought to be a result of the rhythmic, musical and creative nature of dance.