While not everyone may be as incredible as Michael Flatley, everybody and anybody can benefit from giving dance a try. Whether you try ballet, tango, or just freestyle with your friends, dancing of any sort confers some incredible health benefits.
Improve learning & memory. Dancing and learning dances activates the cognitive centre of the brain and encourage neural plasticity. This means that neurons are healthier and more adaptable throughout life, meaning better cognitive function as you age. Especially in later years, skills and neurons enhanced through dance are incredibly important in maintaining memory function. It is also one of the few forms of physical activity that effectively protects against dementia.
Improve mood. Like any form of exercise, dance promotes the release of hormones in the body, like endorphins, which makes you feel good. But be warned, dancing can be addictive, in the best possible way. Dancing also improves posture, which is good for those of us who sit slumped too long. As well as appearing more attractive and confident, better posture has actually been scientifically linked with a more positive mood and outlook.
Reduce stress. As with any form of exercise, dancing reduces the amount of stress hormones in your body. Not only is it a great form of physical activity, but it is a good way to convey creativity and emotional expression. For these reasons, it is also known to reduce depression. Let yourself go with the music and dance your cares away.
Keep fit. Why worry about a workout when you could be dancing? Exercise is important, especially as you age, so why not challenge your mind and body by taking a dance class? Dance works to improve blood and lymph flow, improve muscle tone, improve flexibility, and reduce bodily stiffness. It’ll keep you enjoying life and ageing gracefully for years to come!
Companionship. If you attend a dance class or group you will be bound to meet other people. If you do not have a partner to take with you, you will be sure to find someone to take to the floor with or be alongside in a line dance.
And, although it should be implied, let’s not forget the most overlooked and most important reason for dancing — it’s fun! When it comes down to it, the most important things in life are fitting in more fun and not taking yourself too seriously. Give dance a try: be it flamenco, ballroom, hip hop, ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, bedroom freestyle, or Zumba. With an open mind, you’ll be rocking it on the dance floor in no time!
Len Goodman, the doyen of ballroom dance, who chairs the Strictly Come Dancing panel of judges, also believes dance is the perfect way to combine exercise with enjoyment.
‘If you’re married it’s something you can share with your other half, and if you’re single it gives you an opportunity to meet other people,’ he says.
‘We’re all living longer, so we have all got to be more active in the third age.’
Are you a member of a local dance group if so we’d like to hear from you?