Dance is the way we express ourselves when our words are insufficient. We all want to be understood, and dance is the best way to convey emotion.
People dance for all kinds of reasons such as to mourn, to celebrate, to heal, to give thanks, to preserve cultural heritage and treasured legends, to demonstrate physical prowess, to assert individuality, to provoke and to entertain. Dance springs from a human desire for personal expression and social connection. Here is a list of ten benefits of dancing:
1. Improves your physical health and fitness At its core, dancing is exercise. It might not seem like it, because you’re having fun twirling and moving to music rather than being bored out of your mind on the elliptical, but dancing is cardiovascular exercise. According to numerous studies, dancing regularly improves your circulation, increases lung capacity, retards the aging process, keeps joints lubricated, helps with blood sugar control, burns calories and improves stamina. Fact: The muscle exertion and breathing rates of dancers performing in one dance competition is equivalent to those of cyclists, swimmers and an Olympic-level 800-meter runner.
2. Improves balance, coordination and posture On top of the physical benefits above, dancing is especially helpful in toning the stabilizer muscles that help us balance and make us stand tall, while intricate foot and arm movements improve your coordination. Even better: these skills are transferable to many areas of your life – we know athletes and martial artists who took up dance to sharpen their hand-eye coordination!
3. Keeps your mind sharp and improves reflexes Free-style social dancing means you will have to make split-second decisions to lead and follow each move, add style to your dancing, and string patterns together. Decision-making and dealing with new situations improves and preserves our mental acuity, sharpens reflexes and shortens mental reaction time. All these things are useful not just in keeping you on your toes on the dance floor, but also in keeping your mind sharp and your cognitive abilities intact at all ages. Read more about how dancing makes your smarter here.
4. Combats stress and improves self-confidence Dancing raises endorphin levels, and elevates your mood, which helps heal stress and keep away depression. It also promotes body awareness, and makes you more comfortable in your own skin, which builds confidence. These mental benefits will show through even off the dance floor – in the way you walk, approach problems, and deal with pressure.
5. Widens your social circle When going out social dancing, you will meet more new people than you know what to do with. The great thing about Ottawa’s Latin dance scene is that it’s amazingly friendly and eager to see new faces on the dance floor. So if you’re stuck for a way to meet new people, forget bars and online dating – come dance salsa! 6. Improves your social interactions and can help conquer shyness Latin dances are social at their very core – they are all about interacting with your partner and creating connections. If you’re having trouble approaching strangers or relating to people in social situations, social dancing can help conquer some of those fears.
7. Helps make or enhance a romantic connection Not only can you meet a new romantic interest on the dance floor, but couples who dance together also tend to stay together. Partner dancing relies heavily on the connection between dancers, and helps build trust between partners. Latin dances in particular are quite passionate dances, which help you relate to your partner in a romantic, unique way.
8. Gives you the means of artistic self-expression Many of us have jobs which, unfortunately, downplay creativity and self-expression in favour of hard facts and company policy. Having a creative outlet such as dance not only wards off muscle atrophy from all the sitting you do from 9 to 5, it also provides you with an artistic outlet you may not know you need!
9. Provides a new cultural experience In Ottawa, Latin dance has no cultural barriers. Not only will you discover many aspects of Latin culture through dance, you will also find a culturally diverse dancer population. As Canadians, we know well that cultural interaction improves our health by expanding our mind and sharing our spirit!
10. Makes you better-looking Not only will you look better by standing tall and not tripping over your feet, but dancing socially also promotes good grooming – after all, everyone likes to look their best when they go out dancing!