Research has shown that we increase our intelligence by exercising our cognitive processes. Intelligence: Use it or lose it. Making hundreds of split second evaluations and decisions while dancing is a lot of mental exercise! This helps us maintain and sharpen our intellect as we age.
Flexibility is an important part of being healthy. Dance requires a great amount of flexibility. Most dance classes begin with a warm up including several stretching exercises. Dancers must strive to achieve full range of motion for all the major muscle groups. The greater the range of motion, the more muscles can flex and extend. Most forms of dance require dancers to perform movements that require bending and stretching, so dancers naturally become flexible by dancing.
Strength is defined as the ability of a muscle to exert a force against resistance. Dancing builds strength by forcing the muscles to resist against a dancers own body weight. Many styles of dance, including Irish Dancing, require jumping and leaping high into the air. Jumping and leaping require tremendous strength of the major leg muscles.
Dance is a physical exercise. Exercise increases endurance. Endurance is the ability of muscles to work hard for increasingly long periods of time without fatigue. Regular dancing is great for improving endurance, especially vigorous dancing such as Irish Dancing. Elevating the heart rate can increase stamina. Just as in any form of exercise, regular dancing will build up endurance.
Dancing Makes Us Smarter:
For centuries, dance manuals and other writings have lauded the health benefits of dancing, usually as physical exercise. More recently we have seen research on further health benefits of dancing, such as stress reduction and increased serotonin level, with its sense of well-being.
Then most recently we have heard of another benefits: Frequent dancing makes us smarter. A major study added to the growing evidence that stimulating ones mind can ward off Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, much as physical exercise can keep the body fit and healthy. Dancing also increases cognitive acuity at all ages.
The study wanted to see if any physical or cognitive recreational activities influenced mental acuity. They discovered that some activities had a significant beneficial effect. Others had none. They studied cognitive activities such as reading books, writing for pleasure, doing crossword puzzles and playing cards. They also studied physical activities such as swimming, bicycling, playing golf, dancing and walking for exercise.
Reading and Writing - 35%
Bicycling and Swimming - 0%
Doing crosswords and Playing cards - 47%
Playing golf and Walking - 0%
Dancing - 76%
Dancing was the highest percentage of any activity studied, cognitive or physical.
Benefits of Dance
Sense of Well-Being:
Dancing is a social activity. Studies have shown that strong social ties and socializing with friends contribute to high self-esteem and a positive outlook. Dancing provides many opportunities to meet other people and joining a dance class can increase self confidence and build social skills. Because physical activity reduces stress and tension, regularly dancing gives an overall sense of well-being.