International Dance Day is very special for me. I’ve danced for most of all my life, and I even got a dance certificate while I was in college. I’ve danced many styles, from ballet, to samba, jazz, ballroom dancing and flamenco, to mention a few. However, I hadn’t danced in almost ten years.
When I started working full-time after college, I stopped dancing. But I never stopped missing it. A silver lining this pandemic had for me was letting me reconnect with this passion. Dance academies opened up to virtual lessons, and, being at home, I had time to take them. Now, I’m dancing five hours each week, and I love it! I never would’ve imagined that in my thirties I’d be dancing on pointe, or doing splits. It took less than a year for my body to remember what it was capable of.
Dancing is about style and rhythm, but it’s much more than that. It’s actually an amazing physical exercise and a wonderful ally for mental health.
There are lots of studies that list the benefits of dancing for brain health, emotions, depression, and blood pressure. In addition to burning calories, gaining flexibility and strengthening your muscles, here are five reasons why you should dance, for the sake of your body and your mind.
1 – Keeps your brain sharp – According to researchers, dancing boosts your cognitive function. This type of exercise for brain health is usually attributed to solving crossword puzzles, but in the case of dance, not only does it involve a mental effort, but it mixes it with social interaction; a combination that lowers the risk of dementia.
2 – Improves your balance – dancing has a direct impact on the hippocampus, which is responsible for equilibrium.
3 – Strengthens neural connections. Dancing helps develop the connections related to control of behavior, long-term memory, learning, decision-making and spatial recognition. This happens because this activity integrates several brain functions at once: kinesthetic (movement), rational, musical and emotional. Just feel the music, your brain will do the rest.
4 – Boosts your mood. A research on Zumba lessons showed that it improves mood, since it increases levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin. And dancing, in general, has even been used as therapy to combat depression.
5 – Reduces stress – When you dance you fight some of the effects stress has on our body, such as tension and chronic fatigue.
You don’t have to be a professional dancer to enjoy this day. Just turn up the music and let your body move!