Your Brain on Dance

No doubt about it, dancing is a fun way to shake up your workout routine! It’s a great way to add cardio; it allows you to use your whole body if you want to, and it can be done alone, with friends, or with your partner. But does dance affect your mental well-being, too? 

Of course, like any form of exercise, dancing releases endorphins that promote stress relief and happy feelings, but there are some reasons why dance might positively impact your mental state a little more than other forms of cardio. I’m sure you’ve noticed one of the benefits of dance- feeling free! Dancing is a form of self-expression that allows you to physically express pent-up emotions and let go of stressors! Unlike a lot of other cardio activities, dancing lets you cut loose, which studies have shown actually promotes the release of more of those mood-boosting endorphins and hormones. 

Dancing also helps mitigate and even eliminate social anxiety. When you take a structured dance class like salsa, hip-hop, ballroom, or even freestyle, you positively interact with others while still participating in self-expression. Even in small classes, you “perform” your moves in front of other dancers, the instructors, and your partner (if it’s partner-driven like ballroom or salsa), which helps desensitize doing things in front of crowds. Some therapists encourage those with social anxiety to get involved in dance as it has been proven to bolster social confidence! Higher levels of social confidence can help you overcome anxieties surrounding things like public speaking, which many people struggle with. 

On top of the mood-boosting and increased social confidence, learning dance routines can help you improve your memory. Studies show a link between consistently engaging in cognitive activities and warding off memory and brain mass loss. Plus, engaging in regular learning activities helps you learn more efficiently in the long run. So, remembering choreography routines with constant movement and change in patterns is an excellent form of therapy for memory improvement (as well as creativity and learning ability!). 

So, next time you are bored with your workout routine, add some dance! If you don’t have classes available near you (or don’t want to add a long-term commitment), you can take an online class, watch YouTube tutorials, check to see if bars or restaurants in your area have events like salsa nights, or even throw yourself a party for one! 

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