We have all heard by now the benefits of having an active lifestyle on your health. Better weight management, stronger and more flexible bodies, and being able to manage one’s emotional state better. What most people don’t think about is how dancing has these same effects plus a few additional bonuses to the health of your brain.
- Weight Management: When it comes to weight management, just one hour of swing dancing has the same impact on the health of your body as jogging for 40 minutes. The average person burns about 375 calories running a 10-11 minute mile and that same person will burn about 360 calories in an hour of dancing. For a majority of people though, they will be more motivated and not perceive dancing to be as demanding as running. (its easier on your joints as well!)
- Strength Training: Dancing IS a weight bearing exercise (your weight), especially with the more athletic dancing like Lindy Hop and falls in between yoga and light strength training when it comes to maintaining and even building muscle.
- Balance and Flexibility: Dancing requires a certain degree of structure in order to be efficient, increasing an individual’s ability to balance and dancing for 20 minutes or more not only gets you into the cardio zone for burning calories, it also warms the body up helping to increase flexibility. Take further advantage of this by doing a stretching routine after dancing (but before you cool off).
- Neuroplasticity: Like running, having to be able to navigate around objects on the dance floor takes advantage of neuroplasticity, that is the creation of new neurons, in order to become more efficient at moving thru time and space. That means your are literally changing the physical structure of your brain and building up a defense against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia while sharpening your ability to think rationally. Research has also shown that any learning taking place after such an activity like running or dancing increases your ability to learn!
- Emotional Regulation: Dancing, again like running, also helps to produce a host of different hormones which not only aid in repairing the body, providing energy, managing stress and bolstering your immune system, but it helps in regulating emotions making you more psychologically flexible to the challenges of your day.
As you can see, just these few benefits are worth picking up not to mention that the activity is also a way to connect socially, another factor that has been found to increase ones level of emotional and mental health, not to mention increasing your longevity.