What are the Mental & Emotional Benefits of Dancing?
Incredible as it may sound dancing improves your body as much mentally as it does physically – and maybe even more.The benefits and potential of dancing (in particular dancing with a partner, such as in Salsa) for general health, as a complementary treatment for diseases, anti-aging and social wellbeing, have being recognized by recent research. Salsa is is an art of living that pursues a healthy, harmonious and happy life. Here are some of the benefits of Salsa from different perspectives:
First of all as a fitness routine: It is considered a moderate intensity, low impact, aerobic exercise – although as some of us know it can also be high-impact and very energetic! It is not restricted by age, sex, space or time. Many studies show regular Salsa promotes general health including cardio-respiratory and musculoskeletal function, posture control and the immune system.
Not only does dancing keep you fit, it has other key benefits that are not so obvious, which may not have thought of:
1. Increased happiness
Is it the release of endorphins or simple fun? Experts around the world prove that dancing lowers levels of stress hormones and significantly lowers levels of depression. Dancing is essential to inner happiness and harmony and salsa if one form of dance that offers all the magic and intense passion life can offer.
One of the many psychological benefits of aerobic exercises is that of helping a person to feel happy and remain in a positive mood. As a freelance writer or blogger you need to be prepared to face different difficulties in your field of work often on your own. Dancing can help you to handle the stress and possible depression that comes along with the lack of results, rejections from agents and just keeping your spirits up to keep you motivated
Invigorating Salsa nights are hosted all over the world. Find one in your town!
2. Improved mental health
Secondly, dancing is a wonderful way to improve your mental health and counteract the onset of depression. Depression affects about 121 million people worldwide. Finding an affordable, non-intrusive and effective treatment is an absolute must for society, not just on an individual level but also on a macro level where we are seeing depression impacting on productivity and as a springboard to further illnesses.
What better way to combat these effects than dancing!? And this is what dancing offers as a promoter of mental health:
- supports your sense of empowerment, accomplishment and personal identity
- provides a spontaneous activity
- an opportunity to repeat skills previously learnt
- a form of non-verbal expression
- motivation to participate – encouraging autonomy and taking initiative
- medium for preserving intellectual and physical functions without being confronted by the fear of negative feelings
- stimulates communication with others
- offers a way to share experiences
- a wonderful way to make and maintain meaningful contact with others
- social interaction, combating loneliness and isolation
Naturally dancing comes with so many other benefits like improved cardiovascular function, increased body strength, improved balance and posture, enhanced agility and coordination, as well as boosting your self esteem and confidence. And besides – it’s a great excuse to get away from your desk! You will really shift your vibrations to a whole other level and refill your well of creativity!
3. Improved concentration
Thirdly as a meditation, the rhythmic motion guided by focusing your mind leads you, in the physical sense, into a meditative state known as “moving meditation”. Therefore, just like any other form of meditation, this will benefit the parasympathetic nerve system which helps reduce stress and improve concentration. Furthermore, Research shows that meditation soothes the mind, enhances concentration. You are essentially giving your brain a rest from all of its usual worrying thoughts (just like when you practice mindfulness). Consequently, you are silencing the chatter of your mind. However, you are also simultaneously engaging your brain into thinking. it has to think about the sequence of steps, a particular dance routine, signs from your partners and so on. all this keeps the brain alert and uses parts of your brain you normally would not use, let’s say if you were watching TV!
Add to the above the fact that cardio exercise helps you sleep better and because you’re having so much fun dancing your stress levels are lowered, this is a fantastic way to improve your mental agility! Not to mention your physical agility!
4. An antidote to aging
Move it or lose it!
Finally, dancing improves brain function on a variety of levels. Two recent studies in the U.S show how different types of practice allow dancers to achieve peak performance. This is done by combining cerebral and cognitive thought processes with muscle memory and proprioception held in the cerebellum. Through regular exercise that incorporates some type of dance at least once a week anyone can maximize their brain function.
Because practicing a dance like the salsa involves both the body and the mind it offers both physiological and psychological benefits. Studies have shown that the psychological benefits include improvements in:
- quality of life
- mental health disorders
- and even phobias.
Learning salsa requires you to focus attention and be fully present in the moment, much like the practice of yoga. This makes Salsa unique in that you must maintain constant awareness and connection with your partner.
This mindful focus can switch off the negative thought patterns associated with stress and depression. In a related study, dancing Salsa reduced cortisol, the hormone associated with stress.
There is growing evidence to shows that dancing can help slow down the aging process. Studies show that people who dance on a regular basis have a significantly higher number of self-renewal cells! Other evidence indicates that dancing may be an effective, fun and non-invasive method for maintaining bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. As a result, the movement involved can positively impact musculoskeletal strength. Salsa even more than other styles of dance may afford greater effectiveness in enhancing cognitive function as a result of itsinterdependent mind-body connection. You cannot switch off when you dance the Salsa!!
Lifestyle choices – a social affair
Dancing with a partner to music has more positive effects than dancing alone or moving with a partner without music. This is backed up by research, which also suggests that freestyle partner dancing may offer the best benefit of all.
In conclusion you can see that Salsa (dancing)
- is a moderate aerobic exercise
- trains agility and mobility
- involves learning and memorizing new skills and movement patterns
- includes training in sustained attention-focus, shifting, and multi-tasking
- and is even a form of meditative and relaxation training
Another bonus dancing offers you is the opportunity to dedicate more time to leisure activities and social interaction.
So get your salsa shoes on and step up to the beat of well-being!
Thanks to Salseros LA for inspiring this article.