Why is Dancing is Good for you?
Dancing is not just for when we're young. Dancing creates a whole host of physical, psychological, and social benefits for all ages to enjoy. In fact, it probably goes a long way to maintaining a youthful constitution and robust health.
Dancing is one of the most versatile and expressive forms of exercise we can do, and it often doesn't even feel like exercise. Across all cultures around the world we find many different forms of dance.
Benefits of Dancing
Greater joint mobility
Stress reduction resulting in lowered cortisol levels
Increased aerobic capacity
Social bonding and connection
Enhanced co ordination
Improves true functional body movement
Increases metabolic rate
Improved bone density
Improved mental health and brain function
Charging our Blood and Lymph Circulation
A major benefit of dancing and movement in general is the increase in circulation, especially movement of our lymphatic fluid. Our lymphatic system carries this fluid in a series of ducts and nodes allowing metabolic waste and nutrient delivery to and from our cells.
It is also an important part of our immune system. Unlike our cardiovascular system, where our heart creates a vortex of blood, spiralling it into our arteries to facilitate its movement through our blood vessels, our lymph needs assistance to be moved sufficiently for optimal health. As we contract our muscles to move of limbs and maintain balance while dancing, our heart and breathing rate increases. During this activity our lymphatic fluid is squeezed and drawn through one way valves along our lymphatic vessels. These eventually drain into the blood stream and other lymph nodes like the spleen or thymus gland. The up and down movement of our body against gravity also acts as a pump to move our lymphatic fluid. This is why jumping on a rebounder or trampoline is excellent for moving the lymphatic system.
Periods of immobility, shallow breathing and dehydration can cause our lymph flow to decrease resulting in stagnant areas of the body as metabolic waste from our cells is not removed sufficiently. This can create feelings of sluggishness, low mood and immune dysfunction. The metabolic waste in sluggish lymph provides a breeding ground for pathogen bacteria that an immobile immune system will have limited ability to access. A change in interstitial terrain conditions may also allow for the pleomorphic progression of more pathogenic microbial lifeforms to form.
Why is Dancing Good for our Mind?
Dancing integrates several brain functions at once, increasing our neural connectivity. These include kinaesthetic, rational, emotional and musical. Dancing can also stimulant the release of feel good chemicals like endorphins and many neurotransmitters including serotonin and dopamine.
There is a growing body of evidence that stimulating one's mind by dancing can help to ward off brain related conditions like Alzheimer's disease. Similar results in mental acuity have been shown in studies of all ages.
When dancing in a group, there is also an opportunity for social bonding and connectivity that is becoming increasingly rare with the increased use of social media on mobile devices. Authentic human connection and positive interaction increases the hormone oxytocin that greatly mitigates the effects of stress in our life.
Synchronisation of the Heart Field
Our hearts emit the strongest magnetic field out of all the organs in the body. When dancing in a group of people to music, our heart fields may get more coherent and phase lock with other members of the group via the process of entrainment. Entrainment of brain waves can also be induced with binaural beats. The Heart Math Institute have done excellent work on heart rate variability and its correlation to every aspect of human health including stress and creativity.
From a more esoteric perspective, some forms of dance have been used to facilitate a type of trance state as seen in tribal societies across the world. Drumming has been shown to increase the liquid crystalline phase of water in our tissues.
There are many forms of dancing so it's best to choose a style that best suits your needs and that you resonate with. A slow waltz has a slightly different effect on the body than break dancing. My favourite is just intuitive free style dance to an array of tunes.
- Put on some of your favourite music and dance
- Move your body in synchronised and elegant ways during the day
- Stretch your limbs to increase circulation and maintain flexibility multiple times throughout the day.
- Find a Dance Church or Ecstatic Dance near you and let your body go
Dance and health: The benefits for people of all ages. Jointly from the British National Health Service and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport