Just Dance! The Positive Effects of Dancing on the Brain
While most people would agree that dancing provides many benefits for healthier living, they are probably mostly familiar with the physical effects. These include helping to maintain and manage weight, improved aerobic fitness, better muscle tone, increased strength, improved heart and lung function, stronger bones, etc. Make no mistake. These physical benefits are invaluable and greatly contribute to overall health. But there is a host of other health benefits associated with dancing that targets mental wellbeing that can be easily overlooked but is no less important.
Improved brain function is a significant advantage of dancing regularly. Recent studies on the neurological effects of dance have found evidence of links between the brain’s reward centers and its sensory and motor circuits, both of which are activated when attempting to coordinate movements with the beat of a particular song. Strengthening these neural connections results in improved memory, and can also help treat people with progressive neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia.
Ever wonder why professional dancers don’t get dizzy, even when rapidly spinning and twirling across the stage? It’s because years of practice have blended their cerebral and cognitive thought processes, leading to increased fluidity through improved muscle memory. Dancing regularly enables the body to suppress signals in the inner ear that gauge balance and are linked to the cerebellum. So the more one dances, the less dizzy they become as the body gets conditioned.
Other positive effects on the brain as a result of dancing include improved psychological wellbeing, as well as greater self-esteem and confidence, which lead to an improved social life, the benefit of which can not be underestimated when it comes to overall health and quality of life.
Pondering whether to take that dance class or hop onto the dance floor to groove to the DJs latest mix? Remember, it’s not all about burning calories. Training the brain for healthier living can be a blast, and that’s definitely a reason to dance as much as you can!