Feeling the Music: 5 unexpected benefits of dancing

Every culture that exists or has existed on Earth has danced. As art, either amateur or professional, dance has been an integral part of society since the dawn of time. History is replete with examples – everything from the religious dances of ancient Rome to the stately court dances of China – the world has swayed to the music for thousands of years.

Modern Western societies have accepted dance as an integral part of their culture. The adoption of a novel dance form every few years is proof of that. Disco, line dancing, breakdancing and more follow each other into cultural awareness and then to historical interest in an unending line.

It might be unusual to see someone doing the Charleston or Lindy these days, but the basics of dance and the adoption of new dance forms would be completely understandable for the people who danced in that era.

The benefits of dance

The physical benefits of dancing are obvious. Doctors and dieticians are recommending adding exercise to all lifestyles and dance – along with swimming, walking and cycling – is near the top of the list for healthy, non-harmful exercise. Dance is also good for your mental and emotional health.

Studies have linked dancing with a lowered rate for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, both very good reasons to consider dance no matter what age you are. Dancing can also help overcome feelings of loneliness and depression. Honestly, when it comes to all around health, it is hard to beat dancing’s obvious advantages to other forms of exercise and activity.

Although health is important, there are other benefits to dancing:

  • Relaxation. Modern life is full of stress and anxiety but dancing can transport you away from that for a while. As the music takes over, the outside stresses disappear and you become part of the rhythm.

  • Entertainment. Learning how to do a new task and then helping others learn it as well can be very entertaining for everyone involved. If you can put aside your embarrassment to learn something new and, perhaps, odd looking, you are being entertained and probably entertaining the people around you.

  • Social bonding. Although not as overt as it was in the recent past, dancing is still a communal activity. Many dancers have partners who share the love of music and rhythm and it is a terrific way to meet new friends and people who are interested in dance.

  • Self-expression. Not all dance is choreographed to make everyone look the same. Many dancers prefer free-form or less rigid dancing styles to give themselves a chance to express their feelings and moods while still being active in a social setting. Dancing can be an expression of the group or an expression of the self.

  • Fun. Don’t discount the benefits of having fun. Whether your passion is for ballroom dancing, staying abreast of the current trends or just enjoying a Zumba class, dancing should be a fun activity for the people involved in it.

Dancing is an integral part in our history and should be as integral in our lives. The advantages in physical and mental health are amazing. The joy and relaxation it brings to ourselves, our friends and our partners is undeniable.

Costs to get started are infinitesimal and additive. Most of us already have clothes that we can dance in, dance shoes are inexpensive and easy to find while the cost of taking Zumba classes, ballroom dancing courses or wandering down to your local dance club can vary according to what you want to spend. For the clear majority of us, getting off the couch and putting down our smartphone while relaxing to the music as we learn a new activity, that cleverly conceals how good for us it is, would be priceless.