Do you love to dance? If you just answered “Yes!” while simultaneously pirouetting across your living room, then that’s great news because dancing is REALLY good for you.
The ultra-fun exercise can keep your bod looking great by burning well over 400 calories/hour, and it also comes with SUPER AWESOME side effects: improved brain function and, most importantly, happiness!
In an article published by Psychology Today, author Christopher Bergland explains why dancing is “good for your brain.” The endurance athlete and coach cites several studies that clearly show that swapping out one of your weekly traditional workouts for a dance-based aerobic activity will “maximize cognitive function” and even improve muscle memory.
Bergland says that even casual dancers experience these benefits for two reasons: 1) the frequent spinning performed while dancing helps minimize dizziness over time and 2) learning choreography helps dancers “visualize” their forthcoming movements, which can help heighten muscle memory.
Let’s looks at the first benefit: reduced dizziness. One study, in particular, showed that folks who regularly dance experience less dizziness in daily life. In it, ballet dancers’ dizziness was compared to that of rowers’. The researchers found that “perception of dizziness in the cerebral cortex was reduced” in only the dancers.
This means that dancers get dizzy a heck of a lot less than the rest of us, professional rowers included. Definitely, something to think about if you suffer from chronic dizziness!
Now, let’s take a closer peek at how dance can also make us happier people. We all know that grooving to our favorite jam in the club on a Saturday night makes us feel great, but the exercise can also be used as a form of therapy.
Studies have shown that dance causes the brain to release the neurotransmitters which are known for putting folks in a good mood—serotonin and norepinephrine.
They are technically released during any type of physical activity, but findings show that neurotransmitters have a greater impact when the subject is dancing. This can be attributed to the combination of music and active movement, an act that fulfills a need for “order” in our minds.
How to integrate dance into your exercise routine
Convinced that the lovely side effects that come with dancing can benefit you, but aren’t sure how to integrate the exercise into your current lifestyle?
Start by visiting your local gym and asking for a class schedule. Sure, it may not be a place that hosts Bolshoi-level ballet classes, but it probably has aerobics on the schedule. Fun fact: Aerobics counts as dancing, too!
If you are looking for something a bit more specialized, and a whole lot more “high-energy”, check out Zumba, an exercise that comes with another awesome “side effect”—you can burn up to 650 calories/hour while doing it!
Of course, dance classes of any kind can get expensive, but don’t let that fact stop you from moving your body. Watch some YouTube tutorials, go out dancing at your favorite hotspot, or simply have a dance party in your living room—you’ll end up feeling a whole lot happier at the end of your “workout.” Trust us!
We’d love to hear your take on all things dance-related. Are you a dancer? If so, do you feel like the exercise has made you a happier person? How do you integrate it into your routine?