During our exercise segments, we’ve been looking at different exercises that can help professional dancers. Today we’re tacking the elephant in the room: is dancing a good form of exercise? Everybody knows that (ahem – without the correct footware) it can lead to injury, but do the benefits outweigh the risks?
Aside from every potential physical health benefit, this one has got to be acknowledged as the most important. Dancing benefits the mind in multiple different ways. For instance, it is a highly social activity that encourages bonding. This releases endorphins and dopamine, which are the ‘happy’ chemicals that are naturally produced by the brain. This helps to reduce the very uncomfortable chemical cortisol – the ‘stress’ chemical – which is linked to a range of negative outcomes.
These range from the silent and lonely gloom of depression to physical problems such as high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. Cortisol can be reduced by activities such as meditation, but dancing is also a powerful and ancient method of lifting the spirit.
However, dancing also changes the physical structure of the brain. Learning and performing movements develops and then reinforces neural pathways. These are like small wires that run through the brain. As we get older, it becomes increasingly important to keep building these pathways and to keep exercising them. As dancing combines movement and music, the neurological impact is profound. The pathways involved in dancing are linked to movement, memory, and emotions, which are things that most of us want to protect. As such, there are few better activities in terms of time investment.
A Chemical Change
Dancing is an excellent way of keeping the body functioning properly. One in every ten people will start to develop a condition called sarcopenia. It’s a fairly scary term, but according to the NHS it’s just a fancy word that means that muscles start to become less efficient at processing proteins over time.
Sarcopenia is why older people often feel a bit wobbly, and why younger people can sometimes feel very tired. Thankfully, there is a very simple and scientifically proven solution to ‘growing old’, and that is to keep moving. Studies show that exercise such as dancing creates powerful chemical changes within our muscles, boosting their efficiency and powering up internal cellular engines. This can help to reduce inflammation, increase strength, optimise energy, and banish sarcopenia. This is an exponential process: the more that someone dances, the more efficient their body becomes.
Grace & Posture
We all want to stand gracefully. However, it is hard to do! Dancing demands perfect posture, and is therefore an excellent way of protecting your spine and joints. A little like yoga or pilates, Ballroom and Latin dancing can only be performed when the body is aligned along its natural geometry, which is something that many people lose when they are teenagers.
Even one hour of practice a week can make a significant difference. There are even apps are available that will allow you to study the poise and angles in exceptional detail.
Of course, shoes are important when it comes to perfect posture, which is where Ray Rose comes into the picture. Remember that ergonomic dance shoes can cater for all types of foot, hip, and spinal issues, so can help you to achieve that eloquent and graceful look.
Image source: Pixabay