New research says that one of the secrets to cultivate good health is dance. If you want to wrap up the year with style and grace, you might want to consider the fun, simple option of joining your local dance studio.
This study measured the activity levels of 1,000 active elderly women with the goal of finding which specific exercise types helped keep them keep living an active, independent lifestyle.
The answer might surprise you. Dancing outperformed yoga, calisthenics, and walking. Women who said they frequently danced had a 73 percent lower chance of becoming disabled compared to women who did not during the eight years that the study took place.
The researchers measured participants’ activity according to their ability to independently fulfill tasks like walking, bathing, and dressing.
1. Feel Like a Part of Something Greater Than Yourself
Dance is a wide, ancient, and permanently evolving story.
“Over the centuries, we have evolved from the simple uniform popularized by Jules Leotard to the parachute pants popularized by MC Hammer,” says Hip Dance Company in West Jordan, UT. “No matter what style of dance you choose, the combination of learning something new and growing within a class community can be a powerful positivity tool.”
According to the Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology, meaning is one of the three roots of authentic happiness. This often means feeling a connection with something greater than yourself.
Whether that be religion, a community, or dance, feeling connected to a greater meaning is fantastically important for your health and quality of life.
2. Keeps You Young
Dance is one of the oldest and most universal human traditions, but ironically, it is an art form that can keep your mind and body young.
As we get older, the connection dims between our mind and our body. Keeping this thread strong could be the key to warding off dementia and cognitive decline. Dancing involves juggling different (often unrelated) skills in your head—strength, concentration, rhythm, pattern detection, active listening, and mindfulness—this multiplicity becomes much stronger together than piecemeal.
Scientists found that even 60 to 120 minutes of tai chi or dance per week can improve overall mental stability in people past the age of 65, even for adults who already reported some impairment.
3. Kinesthetic Intelligence
When your friend mentions intelligence in a conversation, your first reaction may be to think IQ, but it doesn’t have to be. According to educational psychology, bodily-kinesthetic Intelligence is one of the nine intelligences people have.
Those with high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are have a firm grasp on body movement, if you will. People who are strong in this area usually have hand-eye coordination and dexterity.
Characteristics of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence include:
- Good at dancing and sports
- Enjoys creating things with his or her hands
- Excellent physical coordination
- Tends to remember by doing, rather than hearing or seeing
If you have ever seen an athlete or a majestic animal running or moving with effortless grace and thought to yourself, “wow, I wish I looked like that when I hunted down a gazelle,” it is a simple matter of exercising your kinesthetic mental muscles.
The reason why dancing is so universal isn’t because it is healthy. It’s because it is fun! Of course, getting to this point means getting past your inhibitions, relaxing, and moving with the rhythm, but it only takes a single foray onto a dance floor in your entire life to understand what dance actually is and why it matters.
This aspect ties into a lot of things. Fun means community. Fun means confidence. Fun means an engaging routine. Fun means friends.
Not unimportantly, it means you get to take your gang out on the dancefloor whether they want to or not because thanks to dance, you are a confident force of nature who won’t take no for an answer. Dancing allows you to have a different dimension of appreciation for music.
Get More out of Your Body
The same way Beethoven might have heard music in everything, there are also many people who can’t help but see their universe as a dance.
In a weird way, dance doesn’t just keep you young, it also makes you wiser and more worldly by connecting you to one of the oldest paths that mankind has ever twirled on.
Get out and dance! Many gyms and studios nowadays offer dance-related classes. If you are interested in getting more out of your body, keep an eye out for:
- cardio dance