There is something instinctual about dancing, an echo from our ancestors that calls to us like a forgotten song in early childhood. Dancing makes us feel ‘alive’. It can boost brain-power and allow us to overcome social anxieties, helping us form better social groups with workmates, family members, even complete strangers.
And yet the health benefits of dancing remain under-represented and under-rated. As though it’s a practice restricted to either professionals on stage or, at the other extreme, to the drunkards in the early hours of nightclubs on a weekend.
The truth is dancing is for everybody, and it doesn’t matter where you do it, or how good you are, the health benefits are enormous, particularly when it comes to stress reduction.
We live in an increasingly stressful society. Stress is the most common concern in every region of the UK, and is considered the “number one hazard” of having a job. It’s also thought to correspond with the national rise in anxiety and depression, both are which are also understood to be nearing record levels.
Stress can lead to under-productivity and inhibit creativity, both at home and in the workplace. So stress reduction has benefits all round, from greater productivity to an improvement in all round general health. Here are three ways dance can lower your stress levels, and why you should do it.
1) Dancing is a natural, feel good drug. Dancing has universal appeal. There isn’t a culture on earth that doesn’t practice some form of dancing. Even newborn babies dance in time with music. The practice of dancing, along with the appeal of music in general, probably evolved as a mechanism to encourage social bonding and unity. Such rewards are the activation of the pleasure centres of the brain and the release of serotonin – in other words, our brains respond to dancing like they would to ecstasy. Dancing is quite literally our natural, feel-good, ecstasy.
2) You function better after dancing. Psychological studies abound with the benefits dancing has on the individual. Research at the universities of York and Sheffield involved fixing a group of people into a room with music playing, with the options of either staying still, exercising, or dancing along. The group were then subjected to tests afterwards. The dancers, now more relaxed and less stressed, exhibited greater problem-solving than those who opted to just sit still or exercise.
3) Dancing is a form of expression. As with any cultural practice, the individual brings their own unique element to it. Dancing “your way” may be embarrassing at first, but it’s a deeper part of how one connects to their dancing partners. It reinforces those social bonds that make up the human condition, which can form an intimate exchange within the group. In this way, dancing can be therapeutic, even meditative.
So, why not make a change and start dancing? It could vastly improve your life. Dance Depot has an entire range of men’s and women’s dance shoes from ballet, jazz, tap, and Latin and ballroom shoes, to fit whatever style takes your fancy.